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  • Sullivan Renaissance 2019 Conference

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    May 01, 2019
    Tuesday, April 30, 2019
    Contact: Denise Frangipane
    “Going Big” in Sullivan County
    Sullivan Renaissance welcomes Ben Winchester
    [FERNDALE] – Join Sullivan Renaissance as they kick off their two-day, on-location, 2019 Annual Conference - Friday, May 17th at the Michael Ritchie Big Barn in Hurleyville, NY by welcoming Ben Winchester, from the University of Minnesota. Ben is a rural sociologist and statistician who has been working both in and for small towns across the Midwest for over 20 years. He serves as a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality where he conducts applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding a theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” that are vital to rural America. 
    Doors open at 4:30 pm for refreshments and networking, followed by a TED-style talk presented by Ben Winchester, aimed at dismissing the myth of “brain drain”- the phenomenon of young people leaving small towns in search of a higher standard of living. He will turn the focus to the “brain gain” that is occurring in our local communities and throughout rural America, with a moderated panel discussion that delves into the reasons young professionals are seeking and finding opportunities in Sullivan County. Community members who were raised here, recently moved here, or have returned to the area will join him in rewriting our rural narrative. We hope that you will share your insights for a thriving Sullivan County.
    Panelists include: Shannon Cilento who moved to Sullivan County in 2017 to take a position as the Community Development & Grants Planner for the Sullivan County Division of Planning; Sims Foster the co-founder of Foster Supply Hospitality, who returned to his hometown of Livingston Manor after spending two decades working in national and global hospitality to spearhead the new renaissance of tourism in the Catskills; Katrina Graby who grew up on a dairy farm in Callicoon, obtained her degree in Entrepreneurial Management at Rhode Island University, then realizing her best opportunity to pursue her dream career was to move back to Sullivan County; Nicole Vallance a graphic designer and event planner whose cravings for wide-open spaces and a healthier work-life balance lead her to leave the city and build a life in the Western Catskills; Tyrus Walker an officer in the Monticello Police Department who wanted to make a difference in his community by staying where he was planted; and Christine Wong a lawyer who splits her time between New York City and Livingston Manor – depending on her work schedule and her husband’s fishing schedule.
    On May 18th, at 9 am Ben Winchester returns to expand on the previous evening’s program, exploring the community characteristics that attract professionals and young families. A new group of panelists representing key organizations and policy-makers joins the discussion. Luis Alvarez, Chairman of the County Legislature; Josh Potosek, County Manager; Patrick H. Dollard, CEO & President of The Center for Discovery; Ian Blumenthal, Chair of the Sullivan County Realtors and Associate Director on the Board of the Sullivan County Partnership; Robert DuFour, District Superintendent & CEO of Sullivan BOCES; and Jaime Schmeiser, President of the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce; will share the progress of important initiatives and exciting new projects that are CHANGING THE COURSE of Sullivan County.  
    Saturday morning’s program will be followed by a series of workshops in downtown Hurleyville. 
    For more information call Sullivan Renaissance at 845-295-2445 or follow us on Facebook; to register online visit SullivanRenaissance.org.
    The conference is presented by Sullivan Renaissance and Sullivan 180, with support from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Sullivan County. Sullivan Renaissance is a beautification and community development program principally funded by the Gerry Foundation.
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