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 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 Executive Director.
Board of Directors
David Chase has always been an avid hiker: "My 19th birthday was atop Springer Mt, Georgia – the start of the Appalachian Trail." In 2010, he noticed an article about the Bear Mt. Project (a reroute of the AT with a thousand stone steps). They were looking for volunteers to learn the skill of stone trail building - so he signed up. The following year the Jolly Rovers came into existence, and David became a founding member. Over the years he has served as a Team Lead and currently as a Crew Lead. When he's not swing a stone buster, he's selling houses in NW Bergen County, NJ.
Dave Carre is passionate about hiking and ocean kayaking – his trail name is Water Strider. After many years contributing to trail-tending, bog-bridging, and coastal cleanups, Dave jumped at the chance to train with the Rovers and acquire advanced stonework skills. Dave is a data and technology professional at The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, a medical research institute with a global reputation. Dave has prior Board experience from several non-profit organizations that focus on STEM and youth leadership. He joined the Jolly Rovers in 2019 and became a Board member in 2022.
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 Assistant Director of Land Conservation 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.
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.
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 a Land Project Manager at the Open Space Institute and he has previously worked with the Orange County and Hudson Highlands Land Trusts and Trust for Public Land. He holds degrees from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
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 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 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.
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, Karen Nelson, outgoing executive director Leigh Draper, and
founding director Chris Ingui for their contributions in the launching of this organization.