Connie Fishman serves as Executive Director of Hudson River Park Friends. She previously held the positions of President & CEO and Executive Vice President of the Hudson River Park Trust, the Friends partner organization charged with the design, construction, operations and maintenance of our riverfront park on Manhattan’s West Side. Her previous experience also includes serving as interim Executive Director of the Governors Island Alliance, Senior Vice President of Real Estate for the YMCA of Greater New York, Director of Planning and Development for the NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Planning and Administration, Deputy Director for Housing, Economic and Infrastructure Planning at the NYC Department of City Planning, and as an independent land use planning and real estate consultant in New York City.
Connie holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Los Angeles and a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. Born and raised in California, she has lived in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn for the past thirty years.
Senior Director of Development
Toby Pearce was appointed and then promoted to Senior Director of Development at Hudson River Park Friends (“Friends”). Over his fourteen-year career, Toby has helped raise over $100M+ for non-profit organizations that include Friends and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (“HSF”) as well as start-up companies.
His accomplishments at Friends include launching new and successful fundraising and marketing programs, events, campaigns, committees and initiatives to raise the profile of the organization while doubling Friends’ annual revenue. The most notable is starting the first ever capital campaign for Friends that raised $2.5M to redesign and renovate a community playground in Hudson River Park. Toby also continues to elevate the organization’s brand by transforming and elevating the Friends Annual Gala into a $3.25M star-studded event.
At HSF, Toby served as the National Development Director, Northeast, where he was instrumental in increasing philanthropic support across all areas but specialized in developing corporate partnerships with a “triple bottom line” framework. He also worked closely with the HSF leadership team and The Advertising Council to help launch a national advertising campaign designed to place at least one college education in every Hispanic American household, reaching 60 million households.
Toby serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals - New York Chapter (“AFP”), an AFP Conference Corporate and Foundation Track Co-Chair (2016, 2018) and a member of the Council of Protocol and Executives (COPE). He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University.
Toby currently lives in Hell’s Kitchen and enjoys riding his bike down Hudson River Park, relaxing on the piers during the warmer months and hanging out at the many cafes and restaurants in the Park.
Director of Finance and Operations
James joined Hudson River Park Friends in November 2012. He offers over 20 years of experience as a financial executive, business consultant, and accountant. He has experience working for Fortune 500 Corporations as well as small to mid-size organizations in diverse industries and not-for-profit businesses.
Prior to joining Friends, James had been the Lead Consultant at D&J Consulting, LLC, providing a wide range of business consulting services. Formerly at Warner Music Group, James was a Senior Director of Internal Audit and Compliance. Prior to that, he worked at Vivendi, starting as a Controller then promoted to Senior Director of Global Finance. At Sony/BMG he was Manager of Financial Reporting and Manager of Royalty Accounting. He was also the Assistant Controller for Heraeus, Inc. As Accounting Manager at New Community Corporation, James was responsible for the accounting close process.
James received his MBA from Seton Hall University and his BS from Drexel University. He is a member of the New Jersey Networking Group and New Jersey Professionals as well as the Financial Executive Networking Group. He is the Financial Officer and long standing member of a local not-for-profit organization assisting others through micro-credit loans, education and health care.
Director of External Affairs
Tony joined Friends after a rewarding career in New York City government, advocacy and real estate. A native New Yorker, Tony brings a wealth of civic experience to this role. During his time in government, he served as Director of Community Outreach for former NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. He also worked for numerous other politicians and on many high-profile political and advocacy campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s race for U.S. Senate (NY).
As Director of Community Outreach for the NYC Council and Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, he oversaw external relations and built strong relationships with NYC Council Members, business, community leaders and government agencies. In his role with the Council Speaker, he also directed Super Storm Sandy volunteer relief efforts and led local initiatives to reduce hate crimes and participated in the NYS marriage equality victory. Tony also served as Deputy Director for People for the American Way.
Tony began his career at Goldman Sachs & Co. in private equity, and holds a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and a BA in Economics and Political Science from Hofstra University. He has helped New Yorkers and international clients navigate one of the world’s most dynamic real estate markets with the prestigious firm Stribling & Associates, where he produced and co-hosted a weekly radio show about New York business, culture and people.
Tony lives with his fiancé, Jason Coughlin, and their dog, Radar (a rescue mini-Pinscher/Dachshund/Jack Russell mix) in Hell’s Kitchen/Hudson Yards. Tony hopes to engage, empower and work with the community and elected officials to ensure Hudson River Park continues to thrive and be a world class park for all New Yorkers.
Associate Director, Annual Fund and Special Projects
Adam Glick joined Hudson River Park Friends in February 2018 as Associate Director, Annual Fund and Special Projects. In this role, Adam contributes to the growth of the Park’s base of individual supporters as it relates to the organization’s annual fund and capital campaigns.
Adam previously worked as Senior Development Officer at the Brooklyn Museum and served as Curator of Mad. Sq. Art, the public art program of the Madison Square Park Conservancy. He holds a BA in Music and Art History from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and he received his MA in Art History from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Adam also serves on the Board of Governors of Idyllwild Arts Academy, one of three boarding arts high schools in the United States. A native of Southern California, Adam lives in the Audubon Park Historic District of Washington Heights.
Digital Media and Communications Manager
Julie joined Hudson River Park Friends with five years of communications, digital marketing and administrative experience. She loves bringing fun and informative updates to Hudson River Park fans and engaging with the Park community on social media.
Before arriving at Friends, Julie served as Chapbook Coordinator at the New School Writing Program, coordinating events, newsletters and blog content to keep her community connected and informed. Prior to this, she developed content and managed social media accounts for social work and counseling education websites, and helped build audience awareness and engagement.
She graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in English Literature and completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the New School. Words and parks are two of her main passions, and she loves bringing them together for Friends.
Manager, Database and Research
Shannon Guttridge joined Hudson River Park Friends in July 2015, with nearly a decade of experience within the nonprofit sector. She is excited to increase awareness of Hudson River Park’s many endeavors and progress, as well as expand the individual giving program, as part of the Friends team.
Prior to her time at Friends, Shannon launched the membership program and managed the direct mail campaign at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. She has also worked on major event planning and project management with CBlaney Group, where she raised funds for various organizations including ONE Foundation, Council on Competitiveness, and Meridian International Center. Ironically, she now finds herself back at Hudson River Park, home of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum where she first began her New York journey assisting the external affairs team.
Shannon holds a B.A. in Global Affairs from George Mason University.
Membership & Campaign Manager
Shaina Lipp joined Hudson River Park Friends in April 2018. Shaina has worked in a wide range of preeminent New York non-profits since 2011 in equally diverse roles. In mini-sized film festivals, foundations and radio stations, to institutions as towering as The Met, Shaina is a creator wherever she goes. Prior to joining Friends, Shaina worked as a development professional in a membership and individual giving capacity at The Museum of the City of New York. While her passion lies with membership programming, she also enjoys stewarding patrons groups and planning cultivation events.
Shaina holds B.A. from The New School University in Literature and Museum Studies and was a Contemporary Art Research Fellowship Award winner in Skjerjeham, Norway. As a trained musician, she is an active fan of all genres.
Corporate and Community Partnerships Manager
Having built a successful career in publishing/media sales, Amy decided to use her experience to give back and help non-profits generate needed funds to operate in a tough economy. Amy began her second career at City Parks Foundation in 2012, launching and running their corporate partnerships department. In this role, she helped NYC Parks to grow corporate revenues through sponsorships, corporate memberships and donations. She then moved on to do the same for Brooklyn Bridge Park. Amy came to Hudson River Park Friends in September of 2017 and heads up Corporate and Community Partnerships and the Volunteer Program.
Born and raised in the lovely beach community of Hollywood, Florida, Amy attended and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Florida State University.
Amy enjoys cooking and entertaining, gardening, listening to blues and all kinds of roots music, traveling and spending time on her family’s farm in Tennessee. She and her husband Ed are longtime residents of Brownstone Brooklyn.
Taylor joined Hudson River Park Friends in November 2017 with over eight years of development experience. Previously she managed the fundraising events for the Guggenheim Museum in New York – including overseeing the annual Guggenheim International Gala, GIG Pre-Party and the Young Collectors Party. She also worked with Guggenheim curatorial team to produce special performances like Solange’s “An Ode To,” in partnership with RBMA.
Prior to moving to New York, Taylor worked in a number of roles at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco – from membership and institutional giving to later managing both the corporate and special events programs. In her various roles at the museum she helped build audience, brand, and donor base by creating new fundraising initiatives in the museum’s landmark Daniel Libeskind-designed building.
Taylor graduated magna cum laude from University of San Francisco with a BA in Art History and Arts Management. An outdoor enthusiast, Taylor loves biking and picnicking in Hudson River Park and looks forward to working to help keep it beautiful, safe and clean.
Institutional Giving Manager
Rita Tobin joined Hudson River Park Friends as Institutional Giving Manager in June 2018. Prior to joining Friends, Rita worked for many years as a civil litigator and employment attorney, practicing at two national law firms and, more recently, operating her own private practice.
As Institutional Giving manager, Rita plans and implements giving campaigns to sustain and grow both core and project support from institutional donors, including foundations, corporations, government agencies and other institutional sources. Her goals are to nurture and expand Friends’ giving base in the institutional community.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Rita attended New York City public schools, earning a B.A. in English from Brooklyn College, CUNY. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in English, from Columbia University, and a J.D. from Columbia University Law School.
Rita was a co-neighborhood team leader for Eastern Westchester County in the Obama/Biden 2012 presidential campaign, and is a volunteer attorney for the Safe Passage Immigrant Project, a division of the Justice Action Center at New York Law School that works with volunteer attorneys and New York Law School students to provide representation of unaccompanied minors in the immigration process. She is also an adjunct assistant professor of English at Hunter College, CUNY, where she teaches courses in literary theory and American literature.
Finance and Operations Associate
Supporting the Director of Finance in her position, Brenda Palencia joined Hudson River Park Friends in December 2014. Previously, she was Co-owner and Vice President of a home furnishings company in Queens, New York.
While working at a CPA firm in New York City, Brenda managed the personal bookkeeping for Ronald Lauder during the time he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Austria. She has worked at HSBC Bank (formerly Republic National Bank of New York) as an Executive Assistant and in the executive offices of Merrill Lynch International until September 2001. Since, then she has dedicated her time working as an accounting technician for small companies organizing and managing the companies’ books and records.
Tobin joined Hudson River Park Friends at the end of 2017 as Volunteer Coordinator. Following two seasons working with the Hudson River Park Trust’s Horticulture Department, he brings firsthand Park knowledge and experience to the position. At the Trust, Tobin worked with Park volunteers on horticulture projects, helped maintain all segments of the Park as a seasonal gardener, cultivated the vegetable garden at 34th Street and led Community Compost initiatives during the 2017 season.
His other relevant experience includes work on multiple types of farms in the San Juan Islands, an internship at Tres Piedras, a natural forest reserve in Costa Rica, and growing food for other students through the on-campus farm while attending college. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Ecological Land Management and a Minor in Health and Wellness from Binghamton University.
Olivia McMahon joined Hudson River Park Friends in September 2017. Having spent many of her college summers volunteering, Olivia is delighted to be working with Friends once more as she was their intern in the summer of 2016. Olivia grew up in Chelsea so she is very familiar with the growth of Hudson River Park and is excited to be assisting the further beautification of the longest riverfront park in the nation.
Before her time at Friends, Olivia worked with the international non-profit CISV. Starting first as a teen participant, she then helped organize national and international education programs for children and young adults for a total of 7 years. Olivia was also involved in the Penn State dance marathon, THON, through her university years. THON raised millions of dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund to benefit children with Pediatric Cancer.
Olivia graduated from Penn State University with a B.A. in Communications of Arts and Sciences. She now resides in Lower Manhattan and loves music, food and going to the Chelsea Waterside Dog Run with her dog Max.