The Accelerator, a certified New York State incubator focused on bringing manufacturing back to the mid-Hudson Valley, recently partnered with the Orange County Youth Bureau to host the Second Annual Emerging Leaders Youth Conference for sophomore, junior and senior students throughout Orange County.
Powered by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency, The Accelerator is a regional economic development team that focuses on start-up businesses. The Nov. 20 event included sessions on Leadership; Professional Communications in the Modern Age; Resources and Resumes; and Mock Interview Sessions.
Andrew Marotta, Port Jervis High School Principal and keynote speaker, spoke about the effectiveness of telling stories when communicating with people as well as the top 10 things the students should do to be successful.
“Today I’m going to talk about taking action. Today you might get a job, something might happen that will change your career because you took the courage to come and be here and get out of your comfort zone,” he said. “Your interactions matter with other people and you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Approximately 145 students from across the county attended the conference at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor. The students represented 15 Orange County high schools, including: S.S. Seward; Warwick; Marlboro; Middletown; Orange-Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Education Program; Port Jervis; Valley Central; James I. O’Neill; Monroe-Woodbury; Newburgh Free Academy West Campus; Newburgh Free Academy Main Campus; Pine Bush; Goshen; George F. Baker; and Cornwall.
“We are very pleased with this year’s turnout,” said Laurie Villasuso, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the Orange County IDA. “Our youth is one of the most valuable assets we have, and we want them to be able to thrive right here in Orange County. This event allowed us to equip high school students with the tools and resources that are necessary to help them become successful collegiate students and young professionals.”
Students and teachers in attendance remarked on the event’s success.
“What they learn here today they can bring back to their classrooms,” said Dennis Maher, who teaches 10th and 11th grade English at Newburgh Free Academy West. “Events like these are really great for students to get more experience outside the classroom.”
“I’m excited to be here,” said Alyssa Kamara, a senior at Monroe-Woodbury High School who is hoping to attend the University of Chicago for economics and philosophy. Her goal is to go to law school. “These conferences allow us to be inspired by really notable people. I hope to widen my world view and discover new things that I wasn’t previously aware of.”
In addition to Marotta, other workshop hosts were Grace Riario, Executive Director of Ramapo Catskill Library System – Workshop on Resources and Resumes; as well as Jose Vasquez, Youth Counselor, and Tiffany Niles, Orange County Youth Bureau Youth Program Technician – Workshop on Professionalism in the Modern Age.
Among the industry professionals that moderated the event and hosted eight-minute mock interview sessions with the conference’s attendees include:
Inaudy Esposito, Human Rights Commissioner; Christine Brinckerhoff, City of Middletown Recreation Commissioner; Steve Pack, Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative Coordinator; Diahan Scott, Vice President of Outreach and External Programs at Cornerstone Healthcare; Bill Fioravanti, Orange County Economic Development Commissioner; Amanda Dana, Orange County Tourism; Eric Maldonado, Owner and COO of Verizon Wireless Zone; Amal Ishak, Owner of Cream Fashion Boutique of Newburgh; Maureen Jagos, Director of Chester Public Library;
Tim McElduff, Orange County Surrogate Court Judge; Elaine Morgan, Aetna Community Health Partners; MaryAlice Kovatch, ADAC Prevention Educator; Col. Kristopher Geis, NYANG Chief of Staff, 105th Airlift Wing Stewart ANGB; Andrew Carnright, Orange-Ulster BOCES Director of Adult and Continuing Education; Rosie-Otero Walsh, Retired NYPD and Coordinator Wallkill Police Youth Coalition; Barbara Martinez, Public Relations for OC Probation and OC Chamber of Commerce; John Faggione, Director City of Port Jervis Rec; Ingrid Hill, Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H/Youth Development Resource Educator;
J.T. Grodecki, Cornell Cooperative Extension Teen Leadership and Career Development Coordinator; Ramona Burton, Maternal Infant Service Network Director of Youth Services; Raeylynn Bertholf, City of Middletown Assistant Superintendent of Recreation; Malinda Ware, Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Issue Leader; and Grace Riario, Executive Director, Ramapo Catskill Library System.
About The Accelerator
Strategically located in the Hudson Valley, The Accelerator is a certified New York State incubator focused on bringing manufacturing back to the mid-Hudson Valley. Powered by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency, The Accelerator works to attract manufacturing-based businesses in many areas, including fashion design and production, bottling, and artisan manufacturing. The Accelerator provides below-market occupancy costs, workforce training, mentoring programs, easy access to experienced professionals and a high-tech plug-and-play environment with SMARTT Pods and a host of other resources. For more information, visit theaccelerator.business.