Friends of the Walkway Add Four To Board of Directors

Former chair and longtime supporter Fred Schaeffer re-joins board alongside three newcomers with critical professional expertise.

The Friends of the Walkway nonprofit organization announces the appointments of Ed Bergstraesser, Dr. Rocco Chiappini, Kate Fagan, and Fred Schaeffer to its all-volunteer board of directors. Each will serve a three-year term.

“Adding these four expert professionals with deep passions for the Walkway and entire Hudson Valley to our board will have a tremendous impact on our mission,” said Maureen Solero, Chair, Friends of the Walkway. “This group brings the perfect mix of fresh perspective and historical knowledge to our work that helps deliver a positive and impactful Walkway experience to 600,000 visitors each year.”

Ed Bergstraesser of Bergstraesser Strategies is a communications and community relations consultant with more than 25 years of experience across several industries. Prior to establishing his consultancy in 2019, Bergstraesser served as external affairs director for AT&T and has prior experience with Fortune 500 companies including United Airlines and MCI. He has previously served on the executive board of Parks and Trails New York and currently serves on the board of directors for the Bardavon and Ulster Performing Arts Centers. He is co-chair of the Friends of the Walkway’s annual Starry, Starry Night benefit event on Friday, October 6.

Attorney Kate Fagan, currently senior associate general counsel for Nuvance Health – a seven-hospital healthcare system in New York and Connecticut – brings more than two decades of legal experience to the Friends of the Walkway board of directors. A Rhinebeck resident, throughout her career she has handled diverse matters relating to nonprofit governance and operations.

Rocco Chiappini, MD, was most recently the regional medical director of physical medicine and rehabilitation at HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. Dr. Chiappini has more than 30 years of experience in major health systems both as a direct caregiver and leader of teams. He is currently enrolled in the Executive Coaching Program at Brown University, an academic-focused leadership development certification program providing researched-based training and face-to-face coaching practice.

Involved in the Walkway Over the Hudson project since its ideation in the mid-1990s, Fred Schaeffer re-joins the board of directors after previously serving as chair from 2004-2010. An attorney by trade, Schaeffer and a small group of community visionaries began leading tours of the old Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge in 1993, building community support for the dream that would become the Walkway. Over the ensuing 15 years, Schaeffer helped raise more than $40 million to retrofit the bridge into what stands today. A ubiquitous sight on area rail trails aboard his bicycle, Schaeffer is regularly crossing the Walkway with his camera close by, and many of the most iconic images of the park have been captured by his eye.