Board of Directors
Erika Allison is an engineer, educator and entrepreneur. She left the Fortune 100 corporate world in Chicago to teach physics and math at a NYC public high school in Harlem with the goal of broadening access for girls and minorities in STEM fields. She then became the founding NYC director of a STEM education nonprofit startup, leading the launch of east coast operations and programming. In 2011, she moved to Maine to explore the differences between rural and urban STEM education as project director for a 5-year, $12M National Science Foundation research & implementation program to improve rural STEM education and STEM teacher preparation. Since moving to the Berkshires, which she considers to be the perfect blend of Maine & NYC, Erika is eagerly learning more about this region and the stakeholders, challenges and opportunities through her role as Director of Member Services at 1Berkshire.
Ronald M. Bernard (President)
Ronald Bernard, a native of Hartford, holds a BS in Business Administration (Marketing) from the University of Connecticut and an MBA from St. John’s University (NY). He served in the U.S. Air Force (1967-71) with the rank of captain. Following a 27-year management career in the pharmaceuticals industry with extended assignments overseas, he retired in 1995 and became active in community service as presidents of the Farmington Historical Society and the Farmington Rotary Club, and currently as publisher of the Sandisfield Times newspaper and Chair of the Sandisfield Historical Commission.
Sarah Carpenter holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from University of Rhode Island. She joined Community Access to the Arts as Development Manager in February 2017. Previously, Sarah held development positions at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge and the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. With over ten years of nonprofit experience and professional development, she specializes in fundraising, grant writing, donor relations, stewardship, and database administration.
Natasha Dresner (Vice President)
Natasha Dresner came to the United States in 2001 from Kiev, Ukraine, where she was deeply involved in Jewish nonprofit life. After serving as head of the Finance department for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Kiev, she moved to New York City and then to Pittsfield to take the Executive Director position with Congregation Knesset Israel. She founded her own nonprofit development consulting firm in 2001, and in 2005 she joined the Harold Grinspoon Foundation as an organizational development consultant. She is a BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer, a frequent presenter and facilitator at conferences and writes a bimonthly nonprofit column called “The Nonprofit Prophet” which appears in The Berkshire Eagle and eJewish Philanthropy.
Marianne Fresia (Treasurer)
Born and raised in Pittsfield, Marianne is a 1999 graduate of PHS currently attending BCC. She volunteers with the Money Management Program through Berkshire Elder Services, Money School with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, and will be a money mentor at Miss Halls School in January. She is a member of Berkshire County Estate Planning Council and Estate Planning Council of Hamden County. As a dual employee for both Lee Bank and October Mountain Financial Advisors in Lee, she has been with the firms for 18 months as Assistant Vice President of Banking and Trust Services.
Melissa recently joined Arista Investment Advisors, Ltd, a wealth management firm dedicated to value-focused investing. Previously she was a Financial Advisor at Webb Lydon/RBC Wealth Management, Program Director of Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), a tutor at Taconic Hills High School, and a volunteer for AmeriCorps Jumpstart. An active volunteer for nonprofits over the past ten years, she currently serves on the boards of Community Access to the Arts & RSYP.
Matthew Syrett is an innovative business strategist, media technologist, and film producer. He is presently a founder and senior fellow at the online financial services company Marstone, and a producer for Cynthia Wade Productions. His past professional career includes Vice President in the interactive division of Grey Advertising, VP of Product for Linkshare, and product manager of professional services and social media for IMDb in Los Angeles, owned by Amazon. He is the inventor on four technology patents. Most recently he served as a board member and treasurer of the Berkshire Coop Market in Great Barrington.
Abbie J. von Schlegell, CFRE
Abbie J. von Schlegell, CFRE has been in the development field for over 40 years. She has held key major gifts positions at Stanford University, The University of Chicago, and was Chief Development Officer for both the Shakespeare Theatre Company and for Enterprise Community Partners. She edited the first book about women’s philanthropy, Women as Donors, Women as Philanthropists, published by Jossey Bass and continues to do research and speak about women’s giving. Her extensive nonprofit experience includes capital campaigns, major gifts programs and volunteer and staff training. She now heads her own firm, based in the Berkshires, and is a Certified Governance Trainer with BoardSource.
Rich is a native of Lee. He is well known in the Berkshire business community. Over the past decade Rich has held senior sales and leadership positions at both Lee Bank and Salisbury Bank. Rich Joined Stone House Properties in April 2015 to lead the expansion of their Commercial-Industrial Real Estate Division.
A fourth-generation Great Barrington local, currently living on Lake Buel. Betsy has been involved in our community and local business all her life. She is currently Executive Director for the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, serving on many Task Forces and Committees including Co-chair of the GB 250th Committee, GB Parking Task Force, and the GB Place Making Committee. She has served on the board of the Berkshire Co op Market for the past 7 years.
Tony has lived in the Berkshires since the mid-80’s serving on the boards of the Community Development Corporation of South Berkshire, as well as Construct, Inc. and the Great Barrington Rotary Club. He also served twice each on the Great Barrington Select Board and Planning Board. Over the 30 years he has lived in the area he has earned both a Masters in Social Work and a law degree from Boston College, and worked as the Town Administrator in Becket, MA. With his background in construction, real estate and municipal law, he currently helps people find the perfect property for their residential, commercial or industrial needs in the Berkshires.
Alice is the founder and President of Bailey Boyd Associates, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in sustainable community development. She is the founder and former Executive Director of three non-profits and Vice President of a Community Foundation. She is currently an elected official serving as Selectman of Sandisfield. Alice lives in Sandisfield and Cape Cod.
John is an investment banker and business consultant. He was co-founder and managing partner of a mezzanine fund that made investments in middle market companies. He worked at the AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company for 17 years where he was a senior investment officer and also served in Equitable’s law department. Before joining Equitable, he practiced corporate and securities law in New York City. He was also an assistant corporation counsel for the City of New York and a member of the mayor’s committee on the Administration of Justice under Emergency Conditions. John served as a director and chair of My Sisters’ Place, an organization for victims of domestic violence in Westchester County, NY, for twelve years. He is a member of the Board of Assessors and of the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Town of Great Barrington. He is also a director of Construct, Inc., Berkshire Bach Society and Community Access to the Arts, in Great Barrington, and is a former trustee of WMHT Educational Telecommunications in Troy, NY. He received an A.B. in economics from Harvard College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He and his wife Laura live in Great Barrington and have four daughters and two grandchildren spread coast to coast.
Mary McGurn is the founder and CEO of McGurn Media, a creative studio that specializes in helping individuals, small businesses and nonprofits with owned, earned and paid digital media. Previously, she was the founder and owner of Colorful Stitches, Lenox MA, a nationally recognized physical and online retailer of fine yarns. McGurn has had policy and operational experience with drug addiction agencies and nonprofit programs. She also helped to establish and grow a national network of volunteer senior-level retired business executives to assist nonprofits in the arts, community development and health care. McGurn lives in Egremont, MA where she is a volunteer member of the Egremont Technology Committee and the Friends of the Egremont Meeting House.
J. Scott Rote
Scott is Executive Vice President at Wheeler & Taylor since 1999. Previously he was Assistant Vice President Commercial Lending at Berkshire Bank where he worked for 19 years. He is an active volunteer, coaching girls basketball, serving on the board (and as former President) of the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, and in the Rotary Club of Great Barrington. He lives in Sheffield.
Barry R. Shapiro
Barry R. Shapiro is a retired corporate attorney and now serves as Chair and President of the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation. He has extensive experience in both counseling not for profits and in board leadership positions, including past service as Chair of public television station WLIW21, Vice Chair of WNET (where he remains a board member), Chair of the Long Island Philharmonic and Chair of the New York College for Wholistic Health, Education and Research. He is currently Vice Chair of Shakespeare & Co., and a trustee of the Mahaiwe, Project Native, The Viscardi Center and the New Marlborough Village Association. He also has been elected Town Moderator in New Marlborough.
Richard Stanley has been a real estate entrepreneur for the last 27 years, and is owner and developer of the Triplex and Beacon Cinemas. He is a founding member of the Community Development Corporation of the Southern Berkshires, on which board he currently serves. He is also a member of the Rotary Club of Great Barrington and organizer of Berkshire Bike-N-Fly. He has an MBA from Columbia University.