The Board of the Mt. Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society recently appointed two new trustees that will further strengthen the organization’s ties to the region and underscore its commitment to making this initiative a reality. “Gretchen Dysktra and Adriene Conrad are wonderful additions to our board, and I know both will help further our goals and mission” says Jeff McHugh, the recently-elected President of MBIRRS. “With Gretchen’s deep governmental experience working under NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg, combined with her long list of accomplishments developing foundations and non-profits, we have someone on our board who can really help connect the dots.” McHugh continues: “with Adriene we gain a regional business leader who is committed to both her community and local charities, and has strong ties to the Walkway Over the Hudson”.

Both Dysktra and Conrad join the board as the organization works toward further developing its business and operational plan using the $100K Capital Project Grant awarded last September. “It is encouraging to see individuals like Gretchen and Adriene see the potential in this project and help it move forward,” says McHugh. “It validates the project’s vision and all the hard work this all-volunteer organization has done over the years.”

Gretchen Dysktra
Gretchen currently lives in Cold Spring and is an active writer. Before moving to the Hudson Valley in 2013, she was the New York City Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs - the city’s leading consumer advocate and small business regulator - under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In the 1990s she was at the forefront of the revival of Times Square as the first President of the Time Square Alliance. Gretchen served as the founding President and CEO of the National 9/11 Memorial Foundation during its first year. She has served on several boards and has had a long career working with private philanthropic organizations, foundations and civic institutions, including both the Edna McConnell Clark and Rockefeller Foundations.

Adriene Conrad
Adriene is a Poughkeepsie native, and both she and her 17-year-old son Brandon are longtime residents. For 25 years she has been the President of North River Abstract Corporation, in addition to her work as a Steward of the Walkway Over the Hudson. She supports and sponsors many local charities such as Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation, Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and Vassar Brothers Medical Center Foundation.

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(Beacon, NY) – After five years as first Chief Operating Officer and then President and CEO, Mike Colarusso has announced his departure from the Incline Society as of 1 June. A retired lieutenant colonel who currently works for the Army as a civilian research analyst and author, Colarusso will be replaced by Society Vice President Jeff McHugh.

Colarusso is leaving due to professional and family considerations. “Leading the Incline Society is very much a second full-time job, but my work for the Army these days is particularly demanding. Additionally, my wife and I are expecting a little one this summer, so there’s simply no way I can continue to provide the Society with the leadership it deserves.”

The president says that the transition to Jeff McHugh will be a seamless one. “Jeff has been with the Society for over a year, and he’s been an avid supporter for many years more. He’s deep thinking, kind, a great communicator and extremely well-connected to the regional community. Jeff has the technical, business, environmental management and leadership talents needed to continue our progress. And Jeff has a terrific board to assist him, people who are deeply familiar with our project goals. I’m thrilled to be leaving the Society in such capable hands.”

During Colarusso’s tenure with the Society, the incline restoration project gained significant momentum and achieved several milestones. Professional economic, fundraising and engineering studies were commissioned and paid for, membership and financial support grew to new levels, and the Society dramatically expanded its educational outreach and interpretive hiking programs. The Society also completed its successful sponsorship of the Mount Beacon Fire Tower restoration, increased its professional memberships and affiliations, revamped its website and online gift shop, and produced a 450 page restoration concept plan.

That plan was the centerpiece of Beacon’s 2013 Centennial Exhibition, “Beacon Re-imagined,” designed and executed by Jeff McHugh and supported by the City of Beacon, Scenic Hudson and many Incline Society members and local volunteers. The exhibition featured ‘Excelsior,’ a call to action video with state-of-the-art animations detailing the Society’s vision for the restored railway. “The most gratifying moments of my involvement have been talking with members of the community about the railway’s past and future,” says Colarusso. “Their ideas and support have really shaped the direction we’re taking. The exhibition was a terrific opportunity to do that and showcased the creative and organizational abilities of our new president.”

Armed with a new $100,000 state capital improvement project grant secured through the office of State Assemblyman Frank Skartados, the Incline Society is poised to complete a full operating and business plan in 2014 and has begun detailed coordination with NY State Parks, which is acquiring the incline railway property in a series of purchases over the next few years. “Our hope is that Mount Beacon Park will become the front door to the state’s beautiful Hudson Highlands State Park,” says Colarusso.

Asked for his final thoughts after five years of volunteer effort, Colarusso said “I continue to believe that the railway restoration is the single best thing we can do for our region – the potential cultural, economic, environmental and recreational benefits are tremendous. Thanks so much to the trustees, staff, members, and supporters of the incline for getting the project to this point. It was an honor working with so many selfless, dedicated friends. My family and I will be waiting in line to buy a ticket on opening day. We’ll meet you at the top!”

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The Trustees of the Mt. Beacon Incline have announced new officers.

Effective January 6th 2014, Jeff McHugh will Vice President working closely with President Michael Colarusso. Having recently become a trustee last autumn, Jeff has been heavily involved with moving the project forward and bringing new energy and ideas into the initiative.

Additionally, joining as Chief Communication Officer is Stacy Dedring. With a deep commitment to public service, the environment, and conservation, Stacy's experience in environmental law combined with her dedication to the local community will be a big asset for the organization.

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The Mt. Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society welcomes two new individuals to its board. Frank DiLorenzo and Jeff McHugh have both joined as Trustees after being involved with organization in different capacities.

Frank DiLorenzo a local resident has been with the organization for several years as Senior Project Manager. Frank has also been heavily involved with educational outreach specifically with Stevens Institute of Technology.

Jeff McHugh also a local resident conceived and directed the recent Beacon Re-Imagined Exhibition which featured the Mt. Beacon Incline and was part of the city of Beacon's Centennial Celebrations. Jeff has been an active leader in several local civic oriented projects. 

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POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL - Michael Colarusso has been selected as president and chief executive officer of the Beacon Incline Railway Restoration Society, according to Sandy Piccone, the organization’s corresponding secretary.

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