Orange Environment Board and Staff

Founders | History | Mission Statement

President

Michael Edelstein | ecoedelstein@gmail.com

Co-President

Robert Kiedaisch  | bkiedaisch@verizon.net

Vice President

Toby Schack | tobyschack@hotmail.com
Bernie Sussman | berneez@webtv.net

Treasurer

Terra Meierdierck | terra.meierdierck@gmail.com

Secretary(s)

Maureen Gaffney | treacym@optonline.net
Gretchen Gibbs | gibbs1@optonline.net

Board Members

Jerome Spector | spectors@optonline.net

Carole Hurst | churst@frontiernet.net

Anne Wibiralske

Randy Hurst

Linda Rutz

Peter Lai

 

Biographies Of Orange Environment Board Members & Staff

DR MICHAEL R EDELSTEIN, PRESIDENT

Dr Edelstein has been a professor of Environmental Psychology at Ramapo College of New Jersey for more than thirty years, where he has taught Environmental Studies as part of an interdisciplinary faculty. Dr Edelstein regularly teaches courses on Sustainable Communities, Environmental Assessment, Environmental Psychology and Environmental Studies. At Ramapo, he has headed the Environmental Studies faculty and chaired such committees as the college’s Sustainable Buildings and Grounds Committee. Among his externally funded projects were “Ecological Literacy in the Undergraduate Curriculum” funded by the Fund for Improvement for Post Secondary Education, two grants on environmental sustainability funded by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, and the New Jersey Higher Education partnership of Sustainability, funded by the Dodge Foundation. His private research has heavily focused on the social and psychological impacts of environmental contamination. In 2004, Westview Press published a second edition of Dr Edelstein’s Contaminated Communities: Coping with Residential Toxic Exposure, recently nominated for the esteemed C. Wright Mills Award. Dr Edelstein holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from SUNY Buffalo.

Orange Environment, Inc. (OE) has served the Orange County, New York region for 25 years. Designed as a model “regional scale” organization, Orange Environment has sought to promote sustainability of place and community. Addressing regional problems directly, Orange Environment has reshaped issues of waste and water, as well as land preservation and planning. Publicly known for its willingness to take on the giants: corporations, government and organized crime – Orange Environment has won a string of significant legal decisions in administrative and civil court. Among the benefits are closed landfills, better corporate actors, and efforts to regionalize and protect water resources. Orange Environment is the principle benefactor of the Orange County Land Trust, and Orange Environment’s efforts to lead Orange County toward a waste policy recovering more than 90% of the waste stream lead directly to the development of a waste-to-ethanol project in Middletown, New York, that will do just this.

Parallel to this focus in regional action for sustainability, OE works closely to support the development of local environmental watchdog organizations that monitor issues at the town and village scale. OE provides training, consultation, and financial help to such organizations, always seeking to convert “not in my backyard” battles into long term organizations capable of promoting sustainability. It is by connecting this effort to have a citizen in every planning board meeting with a regional vision for sustainable communities that best expresses OE’s approach.

ROBERT F. KIEDAISCH, CO-PRESIDENT

Bob Kiedaisch has been an attorney since 1982. He graduated cum laude from New York Law School where he was an Articles Editor on the Law Review. He is admitted to the New York and Rhode Island Bars. He has been in private practice for over twenty years. Previously, he was an attorney with Con Edison where he was involved with utility and environmental matters such as power plant siting, environmental compliance, and nuclear issues regarding the Indian Point Facility.  He has taught at the college level, and from 1974 through 1979, he was a teacher in the Fort Myers, Florida area. There he introduced environmental studies as part of the social studies curriculum in schools where he taught, and was active in protecting wildlife habitat largely through his work in connection with the newly established Lee County  Environmental Education Center.  In addition to his concern for environmental issues, Bob has been a volunteer teacher with the East Harlem Tutorial Program, an active member and Past President of the Greenwood Lake Lions Club, and an active member of the Orange County Chapter of Amnesty International. He received his BA degree from SUNY New Paltz and, in total, has lived in the Hudson Valley for over thirty years.

TOBY SCHACK, VICE PRESIDENT

Toby Schack has been a board member of Orange Environment for over twenty years. She has worked in membership development, grant-writing, fundraising, planning workshops, preparing and presenting testimony at various government levels and is currently Vice President of the organization. Additionally, as a member of the personnel committee, she has interviewed and supervised the organization’s Executive Director and overseen the functioning of the office. Ms Schack has been a science teacher with the Peekshill City School District for fourteen years and teaches Environmental Science, Chemistry and Biology at the High School. She also teaches the Honors Seminar program at the High School. Ms Schack has a BA from Oberlin College and a Master of Science degree in Biology from SUNY New Paltz.

 

BERNARD SUSSMAN, VICE PRESIDENT

I have been continuously involved in environmental and civic issues in Cornwall and Orange County since the early 80’s. The pen and the podium have been my primary tools with which to aid the efforts put forth by the many people and organizations that share my aims and goals. Some of the successful undertakings include: the prevention of Orange County from opening an effluent pipeline from the Harriman Sewage Treatment Plant into the Woodbury/Moodna waterway, the protection of the remaining portions of the Lookout Mountain (Dutchess Quarry) prehistoric archeological site, working with the Gomez Mill House in Marlboro, the prevention of the Canterbury Brook Ranch development, which land and buildings became the Museum of the Hudson Highlands, the closure of the soil burner in Vails Gate, as well as the closure of the soil burner installed opposite Sears in Newburgh, the closure of the Al Turi Landfill, and working with SPARC to preserve the major portion of the lands west of Drury Lane.

I am and have been, for 7 years, a member of the Cornwall Conservation Advisory Council and for the past 6 years Co-Vice President of Orange Environment. As of this writing, I am preoccupied with keeping the “Stewart” in Stewart International Airport.

TERRA MEIERDIERCK, TREASURER

Terra Meierdierck, MAT, is a Research Associate for the Center for Building Knowledge at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. At the Center, Terra is working with a team to develop online training for building commissioning, energy efficiency retro commissioning and weatherization of residential properties. Ms. Meierdierck works on DuPont’s Building America Team, developing on-line curriculum focused on the energy efficiency of homes. Terra has worked in the commercial, institutional and residential sectors, as a supportive not-for-profit, supporting energy efficiency, resource conservation and education for sustainability projects.

In addition to the field of higher education, Ms. Meierdierck is an experienced and highly qualified K – 12 educator. While completing her practicum for her master’s degree, she focused her work on curriculum planning and integrating sustainability in to the curriculum. Ms. Meierdierck has developed experiential learning modules for students in the areas of resource and energy conservation, the food systems and the life-cycle of materials. Ms. Meierdierck has 10 years’ experience in the field of education for sustainability, working within the not-for-profit and higher education sectors. Terra holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature and a Master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in the Arts of Teaching.

From 2003 to 2010, Ms. Meierdierck served as the Program Manager for the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS). While at NJHEPS, Ms. Meierdierck maintained the collaboration of 57 higher education institutions in NJ and NY, building a community of expertise in the area of sustainability in the higher education sector. NJHEPS provided a virtual knowledge base and support system for institutions looking for innovative ways to integrate sustainability in to their curriculum, facilities and building design. Ms. Meierdierck developed a series of working groups to help collaborate and provide support/expertise to other institutions and provide public comment on new state regulations/policies. Mrs. Meierdierck was involved in the collaboration of NJ State Energy Masterplan development under the Corzine administration and is a member of the New Jersey Wind Working Group.

MAUREEN GAFFNEY, RECORDING SECRETARY

Maureen Gaffney began with Orange Environment as an intern and volunteer, and has been a board member for nearly 10 years. She is their current Recording Secretary, and the editor of OE’s regional newsletter as well as a contributing author. She has worked on many issues with OE, as well as previous Earth Day celebrations and events. She has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Ramapo College of New Jersey. She has been a resident of Greenwood Lake for 20 years and is employed as an environmental, health and safety specialist responsible for environmental compliance issues, emergency response and remediation, wetland protection and resource conservation.

 GRETCHEN GIBBS, SECRETARY

Margaret (Gretchen) Gibbs received her Ph.D. from the Department of Social Relations at Harvard University in Clinical Psychology. She has always been interested in environmental causes of psychological problems, co-editing two books on community psychology, and conducting research on environmental disasters and their emotional consequences. She has been a Professor of Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University for 35 years. She has been a member of the Orange Environment Board almost from the beginning, has conducted research for OE on reactions to radon, toxic dumping and noise pollution. She was Acting President of OE for a year. She is a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Board for Jones Chemical in Warwick, NY.

KATHERINE BAKER SKAFIDAS, TRUSTEE

Kathy Baker Skafidas was hired by Orange Environment in 2003 as OE’s Executive Director. Kathy Skafidas is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization including supervision of staff, interns and community volunteers. She organizes research and information, stays on top of emerging events, and handles media relations. She represents the organization at meetings and works directly with the trustees (grant proposal writing, accounting, web site maintenance, publicity, legal work, publications etc.). Prior to Orange Environment, Kathy was a consultant for the Vernon Civic Association in 2002. From 1998 to 2002 Kathy Skafidas was hired as Skylands CLEAN’s Coordinator then becoming CLEAN’s Director in 2000. CLEAN worked in the NJ Highlands protecting its many natural resources.

Kathy Skafidas has performed strategic planning for complex water quality issues and development of smart growth zoning plans for several municipalities (NY and NJ). Secured state municipal grants totaling $150,000 to review groundwater conditions and trends, and current and future zoning (NJ). Secured a federal 319h grant totaling to restore a 400-foot, channelized reach of the Pequannock River (NJ). Advisement of township master plan and re-examination plans, affordable housing options, town center plans and municipal wastewater and water supply systems (NY & NJ). Advised and researched local, state and federal procedures, standards and permitting requirements related to site plans, floodplain hydrology, surface water drainage and erosion control (NJ). Developed open space inventory for 6 communities in the NJ Highlands, instrumental in the establishment of the 8 municipal open space and farmland trust funds and 1 county (NY & NJ). Comprehensive analysis of a Ringwood, NJ mining operation and its effects on ecological and riverine habitat and quality of life issues for area residents. Analysis led to NJ Supreme Court victory. Worked to defeat pro-industry mining legislation (NJ). Organized and performed several stream monitoring workshops, conducted river cleanups, and held tree planting events and membership hikes (NJ). Established local stream monitoring protocol for local C1-TP-FW2 streams, evaluating turbidity, buffers, and non-point runoff parameters (NJ). Responsible for local workshops and seminars for residents (SEQR, Casino impacts on Orange County NY, storm water management, master plan changes, watershed protection, state plan, golf course contamination, and state reporting mandates on municipal water systems) (NY & NJ).

A graduate of Ramapo College with a degree in Environmental Studies, Skafidas was the undergraduate coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Conference, which was held at the college in 1995, 1996 and 1997. While in college she worked for Dames and Moore Environmental Consulting and summers at the Weis Ecology Center/Audubon Society as a naturalist. Also after graduating from college, she worked for George Little Management as a trade show and conference coordinator.