Robert BurkeExecutive Director
Robert has spent his career in education, youth development, and non-profit management. After teaching high school for several years, he pursued a career in experiential education instructing sailing, climbing, and adventure activities throughout North America for Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School. Robert is passionate about providing young people with opportunities to explore and challenge themselves. He is deeply interested in the environment, and the natural and human history of the Hudson River. Robert holds a B.A. in English, and an M.S. in Education from Fordham University. His certifications include a US Coast Guard Master’s License, a NY State Guide License, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Excellence from Columbia Business School.
Will CulverInwood and Adaptive Program Manager
After joining HRCS in 2017 as an instructor, Will transitioned to managing the Inwood location in 2018 and continues to work across adult, youth, and adaptive programming. Will grew up in West Newbury, Massachusetts, taught dinghy sailing for ten years on the Merrimack River, and has sailed the northeast coast from the Elizabeth Islands to Cape Breton. A student of the University of Edinburgh and Hampshire College, Will holds a degree in History and Literature and enjoys carpentry, reading environmental and regional history, and exploring the outdoors. Having spent half his life teaching on the water, Will focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of sailing and remains excited about HRCS' mission in New York City.
Michele FromanDevelopment and Communications Associate
Maeve GatelyDevelopment and Communications Director
Maeve joined HRCS as a sailing instructor in 2014 while she was getting her Master's in Journalism from Columbia University. She quickly fell in love with the organization, and decided to stay on as Director of Development and Communications after graduation. Maeve works with Robert to manage the organization's grants, events, and communications. On occasion, she teaches college essay workshops and gets to take students sailing
Stephanie joined HRCS as a Sail Academy student and graduated the program in 2015. During her time in the program, she began interning as a bookkeeping assistant and has maintained that position to this day. After graduating high school, Stephanie received an associate degree in business administration from Guttman Community College. She is currently attending Lehman College where she will be completing her bachelor’s degree with a major in business administration concentrating in human resources and a minor in early childhood education. Outside of HRCS Stephanie enjoys travelling and exploring new places and activities in NYC.
Russell JacobsEnvironmental Program Manager
Russell is a Brooklyn-raised nature guy and a lifelong sailor. A hiker, fisherman, and devoted Mets fan, he spends his time outside—surf-casting from local beaches, exploring nearby waterways and forests, and writing about the ecological history of his home city. He taught sailing on the Great South Bay from a young age, and is thrilled to be at HRCS, working on New York Harbor. He hopes that by passing along what he knows he’ll help other New Yorkers get in touch with their natural surroundings.
Emily MartinezSailing by Numbers Program Manager
Emily is a Bronx native who discovered her love for sailing while working as a program assistant at a non-profit organization in the south Bronx called Rocking the Boat. During her time there, Emily took courses at SUNY Maritime for Basic Keelboat and safe powerboat handling. After finishing her bachelor's degree in Sociology, Emily decided to venture into other fields of work and stopped working with students and boats altogether. She soon found that she did not find other areas as exciting or fulfilling as working with youth. In 2018, Emily came upon a job posting for the program coordinator position at HRCS and hasn't looked back since. Emily is now finishing a Master's degree in Organizational Leadership (2020) and is excited to continue working and growing with HRCS while educating and mentoring underserved NYC youth.
Leo MartinezFleet and Operations Manager
Leo grew up on the Upper West Side of New York City. He attended The State University of New York at Potsdam majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Mathematics. On top of managing our fleet of boats, he leads the Building Track for students here at HRCS. Leo holds a US Sailing Basic Keelboat Instructor Certification and a US Coast Guard Masters License. Leo has a passion for working on boats, and with youth. He hopes to inspire and assist students in developing and enhancing sailing, woodworking, and interpersonal skills. Outside of HRCS, Leo enjoys hiking, traveling, woodworking, and learning languages.
Denise MeagherVolunteer and Member Training Coordinator
Denise came up the hawsepipe, sailing tall ships for 10 years before joining HRCS as a member in 2011. She previously served as the Membership Coordinator at HRCS and spent the past 2 years teaching nautical sciences at a private maritime college. Denise is also a US Sailing Basic Keelboat Instructor, holds a USCG 500 GRT Oceans Captain’s License and has a B.A. in Chemistry. In her spare time, Denise is striving to become a published author/illustrator of picture books.
Jonathan MercadoProgram Manager
Captain Jonathan G. Mercado holds a USCG 100 Ton Master’s license, an MCA 200 Ton Master of Yachts license and is a US Sailing certified Keelboat instructor. In addition to his role running the Veteran's program at HRCS, Jonathan leads the Explorers program in our Youth Department. In 2005 Jonathan left his career as an IT Department head, moved to the Eastern Caribbean, bought a sailboat, and sailed in the Lesser Antilles for a few years (including a solo sail from St. Maarten to Newport RI). Jonathan started his professional sailing career as a ‘Senior WatchKeeper’ and continued on as a 1st Officer aboard Mega Yachts, sailing the French and Italian Riviera.When Jonathan isn’t teaching at HRCS he can be fond aboard his 36-foot ketch -- the ‘Eloise Belle’.
Conor MurphyPublic Programs Senior Manager
Conor grew up in Old Greenwich, CT, sailing dinghies out of Greenwich Community Sailing, where he later became an instructor. He became the Operations Manager at GCS in the summer of 2014 and later served as the Program Director at GCS's sister school, Longshore Sailing School, in 2017. A 2013 graduate from Dartmouth College with a degree in History and Environmental Studies, Conor spends his time off the water playing in a local soccer league.
Sunaina RaoDirector of Assessment and Post-Secondary Advising
Sunaina was born in India and grew up primarily in Northern California. She came to New York to complete a second AmeriCorps year. She holds a degree in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.S. in Nonprofit Management from The New School. She has worked in youth development and community engagement for over 10 years, starting off as a instructor at her karate school while in High School. Outside of HRCS she sits on the board of The Octavia Project.
Don RotzienDirector of Operations and Community Programs
Since joining HRCS in 2014, Don has managed HRCS's racing, adaptive sailing, and special events programming, in addition to other capacity-building initiatives. Don was the General Manager of Greenwich Community Sailing from 2007-2013, is a US Sailing national faculty member and was honored to receive US Sailing's Excellence in Instruction award in 2016. Don has spent over 15 years working as a professional in the field organizing and educating thousands of students and sailors.
Mwenye SevilleInwood Youth Program Director
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 an instructor and program coordinator. From 2005 to 2014, he worked at NYC Outward Bound schools as an instructor and course director as well as site manager for high challenge courses. Mwenye holds a US Coast Guard OUPV license as well as Basic Keelboat Instructor Certification from U.S. Sailing. He is a certified First Aid and CPR/AED Instructor for the Red Cross as well as a Safe Boating instructor for NY State Parks Department. 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 20 years.
Lauren SheridanChief Financial Officer
Lauren was introduced to HRCS by attending Dark n’ Stormy and was inspired by the staff and students she met to become more involved. She is a CPA who spent 15 years in consulting at Deloitte and served on the Finance Committee of HRCS’ Board of Directors from 2014 – 2018. She is excited to bring her passion for organizational excellence and financial discipline to HRCS.
Andy SoldMembership Senior Manager
Andy learned to sail on the majestic Hudson River in Croton on Hudson, NY. He has fourteen years of experience teaching sailing on 420’s, Rainbow 24’s, Melges 24’s, J80’s and Pearson 26’s. He graduated from Oberlin College in 2012 with a degree in Theater and Chemistry. He is a licensed Coast Guard captain and US Sailing Certified Keelboat Instructor. His aspirations include running an aquaponic vegetable and fish farm in the American Southwest, and owning a multimedia performance venue. He is excited to help grow the community of mariners, and spend many more years trading knowledge of sailing in New York Harbor.
Liberty AbordoSailing Educator
Liberty started sailing in her freshman year as part of Sail Academy. She has raced a number of different boats, including 420's, J/24s, and J/80s. When she first learned to sail, Liberty enjoyed adjusting different controls aboard the boats, and seeing how those adjustments affected her speed. As time went by, she learned more about the theory and physics behind sailing which she was able to pair with her intuitive understanding of sailing. When she is not on the water, Liberty is a student at City College of New York, where she studies Civil Engineering and hopes to one day build bridges. She is excited to teach the next generation of sailors as part of our City Sail Summer Camp this year.
Carl AndersonSailing Educator
Carl started sailing and racing dinghies on Long Island’s Great South Bay when he was 12, and ran the Junior Sailing Program at Narrasketuck Yacht Club in Amityville in his 20’s. That experience led him to a career in education, first as an elementary and middle school teacher in the Bronx, Kentucky, and Illinois, and now as a teacher educator, which involves working with teachers and administrators in schools around the world. A Basic Keelboat certified instructor, Carl joined the HRCS instructional team in 2021.
Dario AriasSailing Educator
An alumni of HRCS' after school program, Dario is originally from the Tamboril, Dominican Republic. He is currently attending Hunter College, studying Computer Science. He started sailing with HRCS in 9th grade after a former HRCS instructor convinced him to give the program a try during a school visit. He loved it from the start and before he knew it, he had joined our race team followed by our internship program. Dario spent four years in HRCS' program and has been a Basic Keelboat certified instructor since 2019.
Emelissa ArochoOperations Assistant
Emelissa, born and raised in New York City, would have never had the opportunity to experience the wonders of sailing if it were not for the Sail Academy program at HRCS. While being a student at HRCS, Emelissa grew to appreciate not only the unique nature of sailing on the Hudson, but also the behind the scenes of the operations that allow the fleet to be sailable. After graduating high school, Emelissa continued to be involved with HRCS while attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice by assisting in the management of the fleet of boats and furthering her knowledge on all aspects of sailing.
Jay BaumSailing Educator
Jay started sailing Sailfish with his father when he was 8 and became a sailing instructor on Lake Wentworth, NH at 16. He began sailing keelboats in 1995 and joined HRCS as a skipper in 2013, winning the prestigious Henry Hudson Award in 2014 and the Tuesday Morning Race Series in 2019. Jay has sailed with the First Mates and veterans programs, worked on numerous maintenance projects with HRCS, and sits on US Sailing’s Diversity and Inclusion committee. In his spare time, he is a manufacturing operations consultant.
Leigh Beckett (LB)Sailing Educator
LB learned to sail in The Solent on the south coast of England as a young boy. He has been involved in sailing ever since and has sailed extensively here in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean. He is a licensed USCG captain and while he is a recent addition to the HRCS team of Sailing Educators, he has been an instructor for many years and attained his US Sailing Basic Keelboat Instructor Certification in 2010. He sails all year round and keeps his own sailboat in Long Island NY. When he isn't sailing he works as a freelance photographer.
Jeremiah BlatzSailing Educator
Jeremiah learned to sail at HRCS in 2012, and has been an enthusiastic member since. In addition to volunteering and day sailing at HRCS, Jeremiah enjoys racing and the occasional yacht charter. He has led his race team to victory for several years in HRCS' Tuesday evening race series, crewed for the winning 2020 Sailing for Scholars J/24 team, and crewed in various PHRF and one-design races throughout the NYC area. Prior to joining HRCS as a sailing educator, Jeremiah worked at various tech companies as a software engineer and in computer security.
Clark CaldwellSailing Educator
Clark first discovered sailing while crewing a broken-down catamaran bound for the Dry Tortugas. The boat never made its passage, but his passion for the water endured. A longtime member of HRCS, he has skippered hundreds of days on the waterways of New York City. As a US Sailing certified instructor, he teaches a variety of programs, from Soldiers Under Sail to Basic Keelboat. When he isn’t working with his students, you will find him hiking the wilderness or blue-water cruising.
Danna ChavezSailing Educator
Danna started sailing through HRCS's Sail Academy high school program. She is now a certified instructor in the City Sail camp program. Her favorite part of teaching is helping her students go from learning nothing about sailing to being comfortable performing basic maneuvers. Danna likes seeing how excited students get when the boat heels for the first time, and she teaches them how to control that heel by trimming and easing the mainsheet. She is a student at Stonybrook University, studying to be a clinical laboratory scientist. At Stonybrook, Danna discovered a love of dinghy sailing and joined the sailing team.
Chris DudaSailing Educator
Arjun GopalratnamSailing Educator
Arjun learned to sail on keelboats in the Hudson after moving to New York City in 2010. He has since become a skipper and instructor at HRCS and currently teaches youth racing and adult learn-to-sail. When he isn't at the boathouse he can be found cycling around Chelsea or leading sailing vacations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and New England.
Christopher LawrenceSailing Educator
Captain Christopher Lawrence holds a USCG 50 ton Masters’s license, US Sailing Basic Keelboat and Performance Sailing instructor certifications and an International Proficiency Certificate. He loves windward/leeward and offshore racing or cruising on all size boats recently completing a transatlantic crossing and a three month trip from Charleston SC to the Galapagos. When he isn’t teaching at HRCS, he's running Onsight Adventures charter trips or coaching students on 420s at the Harbor School on Governors Island NYC. He is also a professional photographer, a rock climbing guide, and has recently taken up paragliding.
Wendy LinSailing Educator
Wendy, an alumna of HRCS's Sail Academy program, is excited to join the instructional staff as a City Sail educator. Wendy has interned in various departments at HRCS, including running launch, fixing boats and engines, and assisting youth program directors in data management. She is currently a student at SUNY Binghamton, where she studies biochemistry. Having learned to sail at HRCS, Wendy is excited to bring her experience as a student to her role as an instructor. She looks forward to translating complex concepts into simpler terms for new sailors to comprehend and enjoy sailing.
Paloma ManonSailing Educator
Paloma started sailing her freshman year with Sail Academy, and learned how to sail throughout her four years in the program. She is now at Hunter College, where she majors in Biology with a plan to go to Medical School. Paloma got better as a sailor as part of the student race team, where she was on the helm. Through HRCS, Paloma spent 2 weeks at Oakcliff Sailing, a performance sailing center in Long Island. There she learned match racing and more advanced tactics. She is looking forward to continuing to work at HRCS as an instructor. When she is not on the water, Paloma enjoys baking.
Fursey McCormackSailing Educator
This is Fursey's fourth year with HRCS. Originally from Brooklyn, Fursey grew up sailing and instructing sailing on Gardiner's Bay and Long Island Sound, while journeying to Block Island and Rhode Island. Fursey has a BA in Anthropology from Fordham University and an MSc in Maritime Archaeology from the University of Southampton in England. Fursey is also a NYS licensed social studies teacher.”
Chapin SmithSailing Educator
Chapin grew up on Mobile Bay in Alabama sailing dinghies. After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in Industrial & Systems Engineering, she moved to Atlanta for work and she started racing on teams on Melges 24s and Thistles based on Lake Lanier. She moved to New York in April and has been teaching Basic Keelboat ever since. She will return to school in North Carolina in the fall.
David SternSailing Educator
Dave learned to sail as an officer in the US Navy, where he served as Deck/Conning Officer and Nuclear Propulsion Engineering Officer during new construction, sea trials and fleet operations aboard Los Angeles class fast-attack submarines. He has skippered numerous bare-boat charters in US, Caribbean and Mediterranean waters. Dave holds a USCG 100-ton Master license and is a U.S. Sailing certified Basic Keelboat instructor. He is also a member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and a certified New Jersey Boating Safety Instructor.