Sailing Directors

  1. Robert Burke

    Executive Director
    Robert has spent his career in experiential and adventure education, youth development, and non-profit management. He has taught sailing and climbing throughout the US, and enjoys providing young people opportunities to explore and challenge themselves. Robert has a strong interest in the natural and human history of the Hudson River, and has kayaked or sailed most of its tidal length. Robert holds degrees in English and Education from Fordham University. He holds a US Coast Guard 50-Ton Master’s License, and has been a NY State Guide since 1992. Mr. Burke sits on the NYC Outward Bound Safety Committee, after working as the Program and Safety Director there form 2002-12.
  2. Alex Baum

    Youth Programs Director
    Alex was born in Rochester, NY and grew up sailing on Lake Ontario and Keuka Lake. He has sailed competitively since high school and is now a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Captain. At HRCS, in collaboration with DOE educators, Alex designed and implemented the accredited curriculum. He is responsible for programming and outreach. Alex graduated from Fordham University with a degree in International Political Economy. While at Fordham, he was the captain of the university’s sailing team.    
  3. Spencer Merlis

    Adult Programs Director
    Spencer began sailing by building a wooden sailboat, moving aboard and completing a 3 week voyage. Since that time he has devoted himself to working and teaching on the water. Sailing brings together the aesthetics, sport, science, and teamwork that he values. He has captained and crewed on tallships, tugs, ferries, cruisers, and race boats. Spence holds a 100 Ton US Coast Guard Master License, and is certified by US Sailing to teach Basic Keelboat, Basic Coastal Cruising and Navigation and Bareboat Cruising.    
  4. Christopher Green

    Operations Director
    Christopher was born and raised in NYC and grew up sailing and working on wooden boats on the coast of Maine. He started learning about boatbuilding when he and his brother restored his family’s 1928 Northeast Harbor A-Boat at a boatyard in Maine. Chris studied architecture at Cornell University and worked briefly in the field before starting to teach English and Math in NYC, but boats and the water have never been far from his horizon.
  5. Maeve Gately

    Development Director
    Maeve Gately grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where she learned to sail on the Chesapeake Bay and worked as an instructor for the Kidship program at the Annapolis Sailing School. She graduated from Hamilton College in 2012 and moved to New York, where she has worked for a Chelsea newspaper and a nonprofit that brings arts programs to NYC public schools. She is excited to join HRCS while pursuing her Master’s in Journalism at Columbia University.
  6. Don Rotzien

    Program Development and Growth Officer
    Don has been an avid sailor and racer all his life. He has competed in regional and national championship regattas as a junior sailor and has a passion for yacht racing in all its forms. Don was the General Manager of Greenwich Community Sailing from 2007-2013, and has spent the last 15 years working as a professional in the field organizing and educating hundreds of students and sailors.

Program Leadership

  1. Denise Meagher

    Uptown Manager
    Denise became involved with HRCS in 2011 when she joined as a member. She began her sailing career in 1998 on traditionally-rigged vessels (Tall Ships) as a volunteer, eventually left her career as a biochemist and ran away to sea. She now holds a USCG 500 Ton Ocean Master’s license. Denise is also the captain of the Schooner Unicorn, the only all-female crewed tall ship in the world.
  2. Mwenye Seville

    First Year Program Coordinator
    Mwenye is from Trenton, NJ where he is a member of the Board of Directors for The Granville Academy of NJ. He has been working in education since 1997 and has worked at The Princeton-Blairstown Center as a instructor and program coordinator. He has also worked at NYC Outward Bound schools since 2005 as an instructor and course director as well as site manager for high challenge courses. He has worked as a substitute teacher and has volunteered as a tutor and mentor for various programs in NJ and NYC. In total, he has been working with youth for over 15 years.
  3. Alexe Taylor

    Environmental Program Coordinator
    Alexe grew up sailing dinghies at her local yacht club where she later taught sailing. She has raced on her high school team as well as local J/24 and PHRF fleets. A graduate of NYU with a degree in History, Alexe spends her time off the water backcountry skiing and biking around Brooklyn. She is a certified USCG Captain, Basic Keelboat Instructor, and Wilderness First Responder.
  4. Samuel Paci

    Fleet Manager
    Sam grew up in Manhattan and spent his summers sailing on the Long Island Sound. After graduating from high school, Sam crewed aboard the traditionally rigged schooner, Argo, and transited the Indian Ocean from Singapore to South Africa. Upon his return, he began working for HRCS. That was in 2009. Since then, he was worked on and off as a Youth Educator in our Sail Academy and City Sail programs, while he attended Brown University. Now that he has graduated, Sam has returned to HRCS as our Fleet Manager.
  5. Emily Moffat

    Student Opportunities Manager
    Emily was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2013 with a degree in Neuroscience. Emily then joined Teach for America, and returned to Brooklyn to teach science. She has taught for the past three years, creating programming outside of the classroom for her students as well. During her first two years of teaching, Emily attended the Fordham University Graduate School of Education. She graduated in 2015 as a Master of Science in Teaching.

Sailing Educators

  1. Jerry Tullo

    Sailing Educator
    Jerry learned to sail at the New Jersey Shore when he was seven years old and has been sailing ever since.  During his teenage years he was constantly on the move, traveling to compete in Laser, 420, and Multihull regattas in the US and abroad.  He began teaching and coaching sailing in his early teens and has continued this passion to this day.  During college, while receiving his degree in biology, he began sailing larger boats over longer distances.  In the last few years Jerry has sailed from Korea to China and back, and worked as a boat captain in the Caribbean and Thailand.  Jerry loves being on the water and sharing his knowledge of the art of sailing with others.
  2. Todd Vorenkamp

    Sailing Educator
    Todd Vorenkamp, a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy, is a former naval aviator who has served as an aircraft commander in the Boeing H-46, Sikorsky H-3 and H-60, and Eurocopter H-65 helicopters. He is a licensed merchant marine officer and has been captaining cruising and racing sailboats for almost 30 years. He has completed three Bermuda Races and has raced on both US Coasts, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean. Todd also is a freelance writer and photographer and has a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Photography from the Academy of Art University.
  3. Chris Duda

    Sailing Educator
    Chris hails from Brooklyn, NY and grew up sailing summers on the coast of Maine. A graduate of SUNY Maritime College and offshore racing team alumnus; he continues a varied career on the water at HRCS while raising his new family.
  4. Jay Baum

    Sailing Educator
    Jay started sailing Sailfish with his father when he was 8 and was a sailing instructor on Lake Wentworth, NH at 16.  Moving up to larger boats, Jay has been sailing keelboats since 1995 and joined HRCS as a captain in 2013, winning the prestigious Henry Hudson Award in 2014.  Jay has sailed with the First Mates, and worked on numerous maintenance projects with HRCS.  In his spare time, he is a manufacturing operations consultant.
  5. Liz Armstrong

    Sailing Educator
    Liz grew up in Brooklyn and learned to sail at her family’s summer home in Ontario.  Her first boat was a wooden Optimus Pram built for her by her father when she was 7 years old. Liz joined HRCS in the spring of 2015, and has enjoyed racing, cruising and teaching on the Hudson River.  Liz worked as a volunteer at HRCS during the 2015 season and is excited to join the team for 2016!
  6. Stephen Jabaut

    Sailing Educator
     Stephen grew up sailing on Lake George in New York’s Adirondack Park. After graduating from Uni, he hopped on a schooner and sailed the Caribbean for several months. Followed by stints with various sailing groups around Nantucket and New York City. He ventured back to the Caribbean as the resident captain for Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in Virgin Gorda, before returning to New York City to set roots. USCG and RYA certified, he now grooms skippers, improving their technique for better experiences on the water.​
  7. Rebecca Behr

    Sailing Educator
    Rebecca Behr grew up on lakes in the Midwest, in the far north on Lake Superior and on the lakes of northern Indiana. Waterskiing, canoeing,  swimming, diving, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing and boating were part of everyday life.  She has taught swimming, diving, international law in Ukraine and English in Vietnam in between working as a lawyer. In an attempt to return to life on the water,  she took up sailing in the New York Harbor.  After years of sailing in the New York Harbor, the Narragansett Bay, lakes in the midwest, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, she gave up life behind a desk to travel, teach and sail.
  8. Marissa Diaz

    Sailing Educator
    Marissa grew up sailing on Long Island Sound. She became a sailing instructor and later was the head instructor at a local yacht club. Marissa works as a school counselor during the year at a local middle school and is excited to be back on the water during her summer vacations!
  9. Brook Aquilino

    Sailing Educator
    Brook grew up sailing on Narragansett Bay. Since then he has owned and sailed, as he says, “A fleet of sailboats”,  including a wooden schooner. He recently completed a transatlantic crossing onboard a 49’ sloop. He holds a Master’s 50 GRT Near Coastal license and is looking forward to a great season sailing with HRCS.
  10. Jeff Day

    Sailing Educator
    Jeff Day has been sailing for more than forty years with blue water cruising and one design racing experience. He holds a US Coast Guard Master, 100 ton license. In 2003 Jeff acquired and reconfigured the sailing vessel Alalba, a 50-foot Gulfstar ketch, for charter as an on-water classroom to produce documentary surveys of coastal waters and shore towns in the Northeast. Jeff works in New York City as a documentary and press photographer and as a faculty member of Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University.  
  11. Danny Crawford

    Sailing Educator
    Danny is a native of Wilmington, Delaware, and moved to New York in the summer of 2006 to attend New York University.  He has been working and teaching on various sized sailboats and motor yachts in New York Harbor since 2011.  Danny currently holds a 100 Ton Master’s license through the USCG, and is a scholar of the history and evolution of sailing.
  12. Hannah Belsky

    Sailing Educator
    Hannah is a lifelong sailing enthusiast, equally content helming in a fast-paced race or sailing off into the sunset in a gentle breeze. She has taught sailing to youth and adults in Maine and California and brings her passion for experiential learning and outdoor education. After several years working as a wilderness expedition leader and group challenge facilitator, Hannah most recently brought together college-aged students from around the world in online cross-cultural exchanges through the nonprofit Soliya. She is a graduate of Smith College and is currently pursuing her Masters in Business Administration at New York University.
  13. Betsy Haggerty

    Sailing Educator
    Captain Betsy Haggerty started sailing as a 13-year-old  in Marblehead, Massachusetts—and hasn’t stopped since. She has cruised the East Coast from Newfoundland to the Caribbean, participated in offshore and round-the-buoys racing, and has been teaching sailing professionally since the late 1980s. She holds a USCG Master License with a sailing endorsement for vessels up to 50 tons, and an American Sailing Association certification as a keel boat instructor. When she is not on a boat, she is in front of her computer, continuing her career as an award-winning maritime writer and editor. She was editor in chief of  Offshore Magazine, and her freelance articles and photographs have appeared in many publications including Sail, Sailing, Soundings, Voyaging, Workboat and Professional Mariner.
  14. Abby Kirchman

    Math of Sailing Teacher
    Abby was born in the Midwest and spent summers paddle boating around small lakes.  She graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in mathematics and from NYU with a degree in mathematics education.  She currently teaches math at The James Baldwin High School and is looking forward to getting her sea legs at HRCS.

Youth Staff

  1. Noa Yoder

  2. Leo Martinez

  3. Anthony Velez

  4. Nick Fusco

  5. Sydney Riemer

  6. Alexei Frazer

    Office/Waterfront Intern
  7. Stephanie Gonzalez

    Office/Waterfront Intern
  8. Trevon Lee

    Office/Waterfront Intern
  9. David Seecharan

    Office/Waterfront Intern
  10. Kevin Trimpin

    Office/Waterfront Intern


  1. Rupert Murray

    Veteran Volunteer
    I have had the privilege of volunteering with HRCS for 5 years, year round . I grew up on the UK  South Coast and followed an apprenticeship from Optimist dinghy all the way to the Fastnet Race.  From an early age sailing gave me self-confidence, the ability to take initiative and strong sense of teamwork and responsibility for those I sail with.  All these attributes, and many more, are excellent qualities to pass on to our young people of NY, and I am passionate about sharing my experience in this learning environment.
  2. Rachael Fein

    Veteran Volunteer
    Rachael learned a love of sailing from her father and grandparents, taking day trips on Long Island Sound and small lakes in upstate New York. As an adult, she lost touch with the sport, but found HRCS and took the Basic Keelboat class to refresh her skills in the summer of 2011. While in the class, she learned about the after school and summer sailing programs.  As a high school engineering teacher, Rachael was intrigued and excited by the programs.  Bringing her teaching, engineering, as well as her math and science knowledge, she began volunteering regularly for the Sail Academy, First Mates and City Sail programs.  Volunteering at HRCS has been a rewarding experience for her because she is able to share her own skills and knowledge, but also learn from the students.
  3. William Gilmore

    Youth Program Volunteer
    Will grew up in Manhattan sailing in small boats in Long Island Sound during the summer.  After not sailing for many years, he recently started sailing J24s in New York Harbor.  During the day, Will does prototype work and custom fabrication in his shop in Long Island City. He brings his practical experience with math and science as well his knowledge of tools and construction to the program.
  4. Patrick Orenstein

    Youth Program Volunteer
    Currently a high school senior, Patrick has been sailing since age 9, learning to sail and teaching others on the Mystic River in Connecticut. He is interested in nearly every aspect of boats, from design, construction, sailing, to recycling.  With a little tall ship experience, having sailed on the Brilliant and the Corwith Cramer, he is also an amateur woodworker and is constantly fascinated with the complex curves and interlocking parts of boats.
  5. Rockford Regan

    Youth Program Volunteer
    Rockford attends Math, Science and Engineering and works as a Life Guard during the summer.  However, while volunteering at HRCS, Rockford is truly in his elements.  He has been drawing detailed sailboat designs since kindergarten and built numerous model boats of his own design from displacement monohulls to hydrofoil trimarans.  Rockford sailed solo at age 8 (hobie 16), and moved on to own an M16 at age 12, which he restored with loving care.  He enjoys sailing competitively at local races in New Jersey, where he gathered experience sailing rebels and JYs as well.  Considering his fascination with boat building and design, Rockford sees himself as a naval architect in the future.  In the meantime, he enjoys working with students at HRCS to help them understand the math and science behind sailing, and assists in building the optimists.
  6. Genarile Debarros

    BMCC Human Services Intern
    Genarile attends Borough Manhattan Community College where he is pursuing a degree in social work.  After college, he hopes to become a parole officer. His hobbies include boxing and producing music.
  7. Michele Lopez

    BMCC Human Services Intern
    Currently enrolled as a human service student at BMCC, Michele has always been active in volunteering within her community and expanding her  knowledge about the world around her. For 3 years, she volunteered for Americorps in Arkansas in an outdoor educational program working with inner city youths on improving their academics and teaching them outdoor living skills. She was exposed to sailing during her time in Arkansas and was excited to learn about the mission of HRCS. She is passionate about working with young individuals and exposing them to new environments.  Being a New York native herself, she believes this is a great opportunity to have for New York City students.
The HRCS Mission
Hudson River Community Sailing develops leadership and academic success in underserved New York City youth through sailing education and provides maritime education and recreation to the community at large.
HRCS is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.

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