Our Volunteers

Over the last 10 years, our crew has grown to 40 strong. Coming together from several states and all walks of life, we pride ourselves in the companionship that is at the core of our organization.  We require a lot out of our volunteers, but by requiring commitment and training to join, we find our crew is happier, safer and more efficient. Communication becomes easier. We share more stories. We laugh more often. 


Leigh Draper

Interim Executive Director

Leigh has worked in various leadership capacities for the YMCA, Red Cross, Student Conservation Association, Outward Bound, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Her role with the NY-NJ Trail Conference allowed her to partner with hundreds of recreational land managers in the Hudson Valley and metro New York. She has presented at many practitioner conferences including the Wilderness Risk Managers and the Association of Experiential Education.  Leigh served on the Peekskill Conservation advisory committee from 2010-2016 and earned an MPA degree from Pace University in May 2019. Through her thirty year career in outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship, Leigh has demonstrated a commitment to connecting people to nature, particularly youth, and encouraging people to play, learn, serve and work in the outdoors. Leigh has been an ardent supporter and promoter of the Jolly Rovers since the crew’s earliest projects, and joined the Board in 2019. She now serves as volunteer Interim Executive Director.

Chris Ingui

Executive Director Emeritus

Chris Ingui is a professional trail builder, designer and project manager with 13 years of experience in the field. He is a founding member of the Jolly Rovers and was a driving force in cultivating the vision and growth of the organization. Chris started his career in the trail world as a volunteer coordinator and program manager for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and continued its development with Tahawus Trails LLC as a project manager and trainer throughout the US. In 2014 Chris dedicated his passion for the Jolly Rovers full time, and in 2015 he formalized the group as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. After a year-long transition, Chris moved on from his work with the Rovers in pursuit of a degree in Landscape Architecture from Rutgers University in August of 2020. 

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Board of Directors

Emily Hague


Emily Hague grew up in the woods of New Hampshire and has worked the field of land conservation for 15 years. She is currently working to protect some of the Hudson Valley's most important places as a Senior Land Project Manager for Scenic Hudson. Emily has served on numerous boards as well as the Keene NH City Council. Emily trained with the SCA in 2012 and began working with the Jolly Rovers through her coordinating role as a project host site in 2013. She officially joined the crew in 2016 and has been volunteering ever since. 

Vic LaPira

Vice Chair

Vittorio LaPira is a partner with the law firm of Fogarty & Hara. He is a 1998 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center where he earned his Juris Doctorate Degree. Specializing in commercial litigation, construction law, and employment law, Vic brings his knowledge to the table when participating as the Vice Chairman of the Jolly Rovers. His expertise lends to the integrity and effectiveness of the 501(c)3 organization, adding useful tips and knowledge in all professional aspects. He is also an active crew member, volunteering many hours in the field on various hiking trails.

Karen Nelson


Karen Nelson, a professional laboratory manager, has recently earned her master’s in business administration. Her management skills coupled with her in-depth business knowledge and committee leading experience is a well-received asset to the administrative development of the Jolly Rovers. Prior to her election on the board as Secretary, Karen has been a long-time volunteer for parks and other trail crews. She was recruited on the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew at its inception in 2011, making her one of our most valued veteran crew members.

Matt Decker


Matt Decker joined the Jolly Rovers as a crew member in 2013 and as a board member in 2018.  He loves to hike and run and he has always appreciated the vision, time and skill that it takes to build trails.  Matt is Director of Conservation and Stewardship with the Orange County Land Trust, and he has previously worked with the Hudson Highlands Land Trust and Trust for Public Land.  He holds degrees from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  

L. Nichols

L. is a graphic artist with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Media Arts & Sciences, both from MIT. L. has served as an associate member on the Council for the Arts at MIT for the past 8 years, and also participates in the Council's Grants Committee. L. volunteered with NY-NJ Trail Conference as a trail maintainer in the Catskills for 5 years, and joined the Rovers in 2017.

Alicia Mendelkow

Alicia Mendelkow is Chief of Staff for the Social Impact Fund in New York, New York - a firm focused on investing in the circular economy. She got involved in trail work in 2012, through her then employer, Recycle Bank, which encouraged employees to volunteer four days per year. Alicia attended the NY-NJ Trail Conference’s Trail University on Bear Mountain, where she met several founding Rovers, and eagerly committed to the rigorous volunteering schedule the Rovers require. By 2014, she was a crew leader, and she has been leading projects ever since.  She joined the Board in June 2020.

Jesse Spiro

Jesse Spiro is an artist and designer with a background in video and animation. He began volunteer trail work with the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, on the grand stair case at Bear Mountain State Park, training with the crew leaders who would eventually form The Jolly Rovers. He is interested in putting skills in media production to use in outreach and fundraising as well as continuing to work in the field as a hands on trail builder. Jesse joined the board in June 2020.

Brian Beckenbaugh

Brian is an urban planner with a focus on disaster preparedness and response. His first experience in trail building was on the reroute of the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain, where he enjoyed working with other volunteers who would go on to form the Jolly Rovers Trail Crew. He has been a member of the crew since its beginning in 2011. Brian joined the Board in June 2020.

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A special thank you to all of our past board members: 

Artie Hidalgo, Robert Brunner, Debbie Melita, Andy Wong, Kerry Andrews, Roch Boucher, Doug Comeau and Karen Nelson, for their contributions in the launching of this organization.