John Hayes, President
John Hayes has deep roots in the Shawangunks. In the 1950s and 1960s, His family “summered” on Rock Hill Road in the view shed of Skytop and Copes. He grew up alongside the Gunks, exploring and hiking the land from an early age. It was only as an adult that John came to understand and fully appreciate the precious and fragile terrain that the Shawangunks represent.
Living more permanently in the Gunks since the early 1990s, as an avid hiker and amateur photographer, John has been fortunate to continue the journey of enjoying this magnificent landscape. He believes that with this benefit comes a responsibility and commitment to protect the precious land.
John feels that the need for protection of the Shawangunks and vigilance toward threats has never been greater. While the land seems durable and lasting, the threat of overuse by people in this environment, left unchecked, would have a lasting negative impact on the fragile ecosystem.
As a member of Friends of the Shawangunks for over twenty years, John’s strong hope is to continue his engagement with this vital organization and do all that he can to keep the cherished landscape of the Shawangunks safeguarded for future generations
Anka Angrist, Vice President
Anka got her first expansive view of the Shawangunks dangling from a rope on the climb known as the “Easy O.” Later, on terra firma, she gained a closer and calmer impression. The year was 1962.
With friends, some of them founders of Friends of the Shawangunks and the Mohonk Trust, a precursor to the Mohonk Preserve, weekend pursuits other than rock climbing (hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing) provided Anka with a welcome respite from New York City.
A lifelong natural history enthusiast, Anka was struck by the variety of ecosystems and abundance of unusual species present in the Gunks and was dismayed when she learned that the integrity of this rich environment was under attack.
The number of visitors to the Gunks, as well as to the greater Hudson Valley was growing exponentially. Then as now, commercial development, rather than preservation of the area, was sometimes the dominant objective.
Elaine Laflamme, Treasurer
The Shawangunks were part of Elaine's marriage vows. In her wedding ceremony with her husband, Bob Anderberg of Open Space Institute (OSI), Elaine vowed that she would always love the Gunks. Elaine and Bob, who were both attorneys in NYC at the time, would race up to the Trapps almost every weekend. Even then, their conversations would often be about this or that Gunks land deal.
When Bob became General Counsel of OSI, their conversation about protecting the Gunks intensified. In 2013, after 25+ years as an associate and then a Partner in major NYC law firms, Elaine was ready to come home to the Gunks and work to save the land that she cherishes.
Jean Lerner, Secretary
Jean Lerner first saw the clear blue waters of Lake Minnewaska in the mid-80s when the battle to stop Marriot from building a hotel on the ridge was in full swing. It was love at first sight, and she vowed to someday live nearby and to help protect the Shawangunk Ridge. She became an FOS member and was thrilled when the Minnewaska State Park Preserve became a reality. Jean worked for 33 years programming a Global Climate Model at NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies above Tom's Restaurant in Manhattan (a.k.a. Seinfeld's diner).
Since her retirement in 2012, she has lived full time in Kerhonkson and served on the FOS/TSC board. Jean is particularly interested in land acquisition and is pleased to be part of the recent efforts to purchase small parcels for preservation. Given that the climate is changing rapidly, she feels that it is imperative to protect as much greenery as possible.
Janet Kern graduated from the College of Wooster (Ohio) with degrees in philosophy and political science. After a year working with migrant laborers in Florida as a VISTA volunteer, she began a career as a film technician in NYC, which eventually led to making documentary films. "Begin With Me" (a Soviet delegation sails down the Mississippi) and "Horse Tribe" (the Nez Perce of Idaho resurrect their horse culture) have been broadcast on PBS. "Saving the Ridge" is currently a work-in-progress. Janet's work with Save the Ridge in the fight to protect the Awosting Reserve parcel from a mega-development resulted in her election to the Gardiner Town Board (2006-2010). Her first vote cast was for approval of the Shawangunk Ridge Protection District amendment to the Gardiner Environmental; Conservation Commission
H. Neil Zimmerman
A longtime FOS member, H. Neil Zimmerman joined the Board in 2001 and served as our fifth president from 2007-2018. After a long career as a librarian in NYC, Neil now resides in Accord and is active with the local Rochester Food Pantry as well as Angel Food East in Kingston.
He served as the Chair of the American Hiking Society, as a Governor of the Adirondack Mountain Club, and as a member of the DEC's Forest Preserve Advisory Committee. He was President of the NY-NJ Trail Conference from 1987-1999.
Neil first fell in love with the Shawangunks around 1980 when the Mohonk Preserve asked him, as the then Map Chairman of the Trail Conference, to help produce a hiking map set of the area. He was appointed a member of the Minnewaska State Park Master Plan Advisory Committee, formed by PIPC and NY State Parks shortly after the big 1987 Lake Minnewaska addition.
Neil is a co-author of two books in the popular “Fifty Hikes” series: The Lower Hudson Valley and New Jersey.
A Board member since 2016, Patty was a Coordinator of Save the Ridge, which successfully fought the Awosting Reserve development. She serves on the Town of Shawangunk Environmental Management Council and coordinates trail maintenance in Minnewaska, Schunemunk, Black Rock, and Storm King Parks with the NY-NJ Trail Conference.
Patty hikes and runs in the Gunks, plays sax in local community bands, and occasionally writes, sings, and photographs. In former lives and locales, she was a professor and author on literature and society, a reporter, an organizer, and a trainer of the disabled in marathon running.
Steve Jervis first visited the Shawangunks in 1952, as the youngest participant in the Appalachian Mountain Club rock climbing group. He continued to climb in the Gunks for more than 60 years, and is now in semi-voluntary retirement.
Steve’s mountaineering ventures have taken him to British Columbia, Peru, Afghanistan, Ecuador and elsewhere. He has made many treks in Nepal, including to the Everest, Annapurna and Kangchenjunga regions. He and his wife travel widely and live in Brooklyn.
Steve has a doctorate in English from Stanford University. Now retired, for many years he was a member of the Brooklyn College English Department. He has also taught at universities in Virginia, Nigeria and Nepal. His book reviews and stories about climbing have appeared in the American Alpine Journal, Appalachia, and Ascent. His pseudonymous article about the forthcoming conversion of the Gunks into a climbing gym is in Alpinist magazine, #40 (this is, he hopes, a joke).
Steve is a life member of the Mohonk Preserve and is a member of many other conservation organizations.
Joe Raiola has been exploring the Shawangunks, on trails and off, for over 40 years. He played a welcome role in the successful 2003 “Save The Ridge” campaign by performing his critically acclaimed one-man show, Almost Obscene, as a benefit for FOS at the Unison Arts Center in New Paltz. The years-long battle to protect the Shawangunk Ridge in Gardiner stopped the development of 2,500 acres of pristine wilderness that is now part of Minnewaska State Park. Joe has hiked over 1,600 miles of the Appalachian Trail and run many of North America’s great rivers. For 33 years, through the end of 2017, he was an Editor at MAD Magazine.