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 Integrated Media
Cheryl comes to HRPK after a successful career in Publishing. As Marketing Director at Penguin Random House, Cheryl led the integrated marketing efforts for the fastest-growing segment in Publishing, Audiobooks.
Her unique approach to content development included national education campaigns to promote literacy, champion freedom of expression and support the next generation of voices. From working with We Need Diverse Books to create HearDiversity.com and LGBTQ public librarians to produce ReadProudListenProud.com, Cheryl encourages understanding and acceptance through storytelling. In addition, Cheryl has actively fundraised for public art in NYC, including for FIGMENT NYC on Governor’s Island.
As Sr. Director of Integrated Media, Cheryl is the first staff member who works for both the HRPK Trust and HRPK Friends, where she’s developing and implementing communications and marketing strategies to promote and enhance the Park's outreach and appeal. Since starting in July 2018, Cheryl and her family have enjoyed many Park activities together like oyster restoration, fishing, kayaking, outdoor dancing and meeting the wildlife that call Hudson River Park and Estuary their home.
Cheryl holds a bachelor’s degree in History and English from Williams College. Born and raised on the eastern end of Long Island, she currently lives in Park Slope with her family and a fancy cat named Lion.
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
Jean joined Friends in April 2019, after a long career in finance, which included senior roles at Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Citi in New York and London. She was most recently a Managing Director at Citi and had leadership roles in Credit Research and Client Management during her eight years there.
Upon leaving Citi in 2015, Jean helped launch London-based online sustainable lifestyle company Rêve En Vert (“dream in green”), where she was an early investor and acting CFO for two years. She also served as a consultant for small businesses in real estate, online retail and hospitality until early 2019.
Jean’s role at Friends spans finance, operations, human resources and technology. Before joining Friends, Jean was an active supporter of the Park, and the opportunity arose for her to share her financial expertise with the group on a full-time basis. Her nonprofit experience over the years includes Treasurer of the Make-A-Wish International Board, which spanned 50 countries. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Friends of Bogardus Plaza Board, which is developing a public park space in Tribeca, and serves on the board of the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance in Narrowsburg, NY.
Jean holds a B.A. in Economics from The College of William and Mary and an M.B.A. in Finance from The University of Maryland.
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Jean has lived in NYC (with three stints in London) since 2000. Jean lives with her partner Jay and her two English bulldogs, Winnie and Tilda. They split their time between New York City and the Catskills.
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 oversees the retention and growth of the Park’s annual fund, secures support from and stewards its major donors, and manages the organization’s 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 at Santa Barbara, and he received his MA in Art History from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.
He has lectured on the impact and challenges of realizing and funding public projects at NYU's Stern School of Business; NYU's Steinhardt School of Education; the Hite Art Institute at the University of Louisville; and elsewhere. He has also participated in numerous panel discussions and symposia, including sessions hosted by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Adam previously served on the Board of Trustees and was subsequently the first member of its alumni elected to 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 Manhattan’s Audubon Park Historic District with his husband, Joshua.
Associate Director of Corporate and Community Partnerships
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.
Senior Manager of Development Operations
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.
Event and Creative Services Manager
Phoebe joined Friends as the Events and Creative Services Manager in February of 2019, with over ten years of creative production experience in events and advertising. She has a unique background in fine art and design, and holds a Masters degree in commercial space design from ELISAVA School of Design and Engineering in Barcelona, Spain.
Phoebe’s search for balance and harmony in the great city of New York brought her to Hudson River Park Friends, where she is able to celebrate all that the Park has to offer by designing and producing events for fellow park-goers. She is driven by the opportunity to bring people together and create compelling environments that inspire the continued support for this essential communal space.
When she’s not busy planning for the next big fundraiser, Phoebe enjoys improving her yoga practice and capturing photos around NYC and beyond. She graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
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.
Operations Manager and Finance Associate
Supporting the Director of Finance and Operations 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 she 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.
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.
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.
Membership and Events Assistant
Victoria joined Hudson River Park Friends in February of 2020. She comes to her role as Membership and Events Assistant with nearly six years of fundraising experience. Prior to working at the Park, she managed members and prepared events throughout New York City.
With a BA in archaeology and anthropology from Boston University and an MA in cultural heritage and preservation studies from Rutgers University, Victoria is excited to bring people to the Park and help build the community and history of the area.
When not working with the Park, Victoria volunteers, walks her dog, embroiders and pens a mystery series.
Hillary joined Hudson River Park Friends in August 2019 as Development Associate, with many years of experience in the nonprofit world. Her enthusiasm brings her creative and outgoing personality to Hudson River Park Friends, supporting all needs of Friend’s operations and the ongoing work of Hudson River Park.
Prior to Friends, Hillary created the first ever 5K in Connecticut that supported LGBTQ youth, supervised and supported staff in crisis counselor work for Hurricane Sandy, and raised funds through events and silent auctions for nonprofit galas and fundraisers.
A New Jersey native, Hillary enjoys visiting the city and taking advantage of the City skyline view from her apartment. She enjoys networking and meeting new people, entertaining friends and family members, and bringing her pup to the dog parks throughout Hudson River Park.
Hillary holds a Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration of Community Organization from the University of Connecticut and a BA in Science from the University of Hartford.