Elevate Conference

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Ignite your potential at the Elevate Conference, a TED-style event celebrating women's leadership and innovative ideas. 

WHEN? Wednesday, June 5, 2024

WHAT TIME? 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

WHERE? Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Educational Center, Hyde Park



(Click on the pictures to learn more about the speakers.)


Heather Bell Megan Deichler

Janet Giannetta Tracy Givens-Hunter

Johnnieanne Hansen Sarah Lee

Louise McLoughlin Sue Serino

Karmen Smallwood Sara Ugolini


Heather Bell Profile Pic


Orange County Chamber of Commerce

Heather Bell, President & CEO of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, is an accomplished and resilient leader with a diverse background in business, entrepreneurship, community engagement, and philanthropy. She has a strong educational foundation, having earned an AAS in Business Administration with a concentration in Customer Service from Berkeley College and a BAS in Organizational Management from Nyack College. Heather's approach to leadership is characterized by collaboration and involvement in various boards and committees, such as the Orange County Economic Development Task Force, Stewart Air Service Development Committee, Orange County Workforce Development Board, and many more. Overall, Heather Bell's journey is a testament to her determination, adaptability, and commitment to making a positive impact on her community and the business world. Her unique perspective and practical knowledge make her an ideal candidate for discussing post-pandemic business dynamics and growth strategies. 




Megan Deichler Profile Pic


Catskill-Hudson Area Health Education Center

Megan Deichler is the Executive Director of the Catskill-Hudson Area Health Education Center (CHAHEC), a nonprofit focused on supporting the health workforce and improving health equity in our region. Megan brings to her work over a decade of experience in public health, philanthropy, and research. Having been born and raised in the Hudson Valley, Megan is delighted to couple her interest in public health with her passion for her local community. Megan holds a Master of Public Health degree from NYU and a bachelor’s degree from Manhattanville College.




Janet Giannetta Profile Pic


Visions Human Resources

Janet Giannetta is a Partner in Visions Human Resources Services, LLC, an affiliate of RBT CPAs, LLP.

Janet is a senior-level human resources professional and a strong Legislative Advocate, who has served in a wide range of industries, including health care, finance, and manufacturing. Throughout her career, she has mastered the balance of employee advocacy and the business needs of organizations – the most challenging aspect of compliance and managing human resources.

Janet specializes in individualized client consulting services, encompassing the entire employee life cycle and all organizational HR functions to establish long-term, strategic HR management. She demonstrates a thorough understanding of complex state and federal regulations, and often counsels both management and employees on issues ranging from performance to terminations, harassment, and discrimination. With over 30 years of in-depth experience, she brings expertise in workplace investigations including Sexual Harassment, Harassment/Bullying, Discrimination, Drug Diversion, Workplace Violence and Abuse, Mistreatment & Neglect. Most recently, Janet was Chief Human Resources Officer at RBT CPAs where she was responsible for all HR activities within the Firm. Before joining RBT, Janet was the Corporate Compliance Officer and Vice President of Human Resources at Elant, Inc. serving 1200 union and non-union employees. Prior to that role, Janet was the Regional Human Resources Director at Wingate Healthcare where she oversaw HR operations for more than 1,500 employees across ten skilled nursing centers.




Tracy Givens-Hunter Profile Pic


Public Policy and Education Fund of New York

Tracy Givens Hunter is presently the Director of Public Policy and Education Fund of New York, Navigator Program. ​Tracy's history includes 30 years in Corporate America and 17 years in Non-for-Profit agencies. She is an active practitioner of Restorative Justice Practices and Circle Keeping​. Tracy​ has experience as an Organizer, Activist, Facilitator, and Mediator.




Johnnieanne Hansen Profile Pic


Council of Industry

Johnnieanne Hansen is the Vice President of Workforce Development and Operations at the Council of Industry. She is available to assist Hudson Valley manufacturers and the community with registered apprenticeships, recruiting, employee training and member benefits. She is also the point of contact for advertising, member systems and invoicing.




Sarah Lee Profile Pic


Think Dutchess

Sarah Lee is the Chief Executive Officer of Think Dutchess, where she oversees the economic development programs for Dutchess County, New York. She has led the organization on impactful work, including recognition from International Economic Development Council, Trade & Industry Magazine, and Public Relations Society of America.  As CEO of Think Dutchess she has facilitated over $3 billion in private investment in Dutchess County.

Ms. Lee also serves on several boards including Dutchess County Tourism and DayOne, an organization dedicated to workforce development for early childhood educators. As an advocate for women and minority entrepreneurs, Sarah has been involved with several local and regional events focused on entrepreneurship and inclusion.

Ms. Lee holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and is a graduate of SUNY Albany.




Louise McLoughlin Profile Pic


Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board

She is a former small business owner, is currently the Executive Director of the Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board.  In her previous role, Dr. McLoughlin was the Senior Vice President of Workforce Development at the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Dr. McLoughlin earned her Doctorate Degree in Public Administration from West Chester University.  Louise serves on several Boards in Dutchess County and adjuncts at Marist College and Adelphi University.




Sue Serino Profile Pic


Dutchess County Government

At age 15, Sue Serino went to work to help support her family and never stopped. From waiting tables at area restaurants, to managing a local diner, Sue spent years holding down two and three jobs to make ends meet and talking extensively with customers, listening and relating to their concerns. After finding herself a working single-mom, Sue started an in-home childcare business to ensure she could continue to financially support her family while caring for her own son.

Sue eventually began working in real estate where she specialized in helping first-time homebuyers make their Hudson Valley dreams a reality. As a successful small business owner, Sue experienced first-hand the frustration of excessive red tape and over-taxation that hinders economic development. Those experiences propelled her to get involved, leading to time spent on the Hyde Park Town Board and the Dutchess County Legislature before being elected to the New York State Senate.

As a State Senator, Sue spent 8 years representing residents of Dutchess County in Albany. There, she served as both the Chair and the Ranking Member of the Committee on Aging as well as the Ranking Member of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation. During her tenure in the Senate, she stood out as a staunch advocate for seniors and caregivers, especially during the pandemic when she was an outspoken voice fighting to protect vulnerable nursing home residents. She was and continues to be a fierce supporter of New York’s veterans and fought tirelessly for consistent funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Program.

As a small businesswoman herself, Sue has been a steadfast partner for Dutchess County’s small business community, especially during the pandemic when she made it a priority to fight for employers and employees of industries like service and personal care that were being ignored by the state. She’s never been shy in her opposition of Albany’s tax and spend policies, having voted against multiple proposals that would have provided lawmakers with pay raises on the backs of working families. Sue has also been an outspoken voice for parents and families who were hit especially hard by the pandemic and the state mandates that came with it.

A strong supporter of New York’s law enforcement and first responders, Sue is a leading voice in the fight against dangerous policies that prioritized criminals over law- abiding citizens like cashless bail. Sue is also well known for her work to combat the spread of Lyme and tick-borne diseases. Having lost her brother to suicide, Sue has made eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness part of her life’s mission. In addition, for years she’s worked to increase access to mental health care for Dutchess County families.

Sue and her family have lived in Hyde Park for over 20 years.




Karmen Smallwood Profile Pic


Dutchess County Government

Ms. Smallwood currently serves as Dutchess County’s Assistant Commissioner for Youth Services charged with leading the Path To Promise initiative. She has more than 15 years of experience working  in the non-profit sector as a program director, grant manager and youth advocate. In her current  position, she works to enhance community assets by bridging research with practice and aligning efforts  to provide the best array of resources, services and supports for children, youth, and families.  

Prior to assuming her current position, she served as a law enforcement officer initiating programs to  increase justice involved individual’s access to resources and opportunities. Her Interactive Journaling  program and research study developed in partnership with Marist College was featured at the New York  State Pretrial Services Conference and Siena Colleges’ Engage for Change Conference. She is currently  spearheading local initiatives to address violence in schools and communities through her involvement  in the Dutchess County Youth and Police Initiative.  

As a pragmatic leader with experience in program and leadership development, she is committed to  making positive sustainable contributions in her community. She is an active volunteer, serving as a  trustee at Beulah Baptist Church and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Iota Alpha Omega  Chapter, and the Mid-Hudson Ivy Foundation. 

Karmen Smallwood earned her bachelor’s degree from Howard University in psychology and holds a  master’s degree in Counseling and Community Psychology from Marist College. In 2023, she received  R.E.A.L. Skills Network Incorporated Community Icon Award. 

She is a parent, visionary and changemaker who strives to inspire and empower others with kindness,  compassion, and humility.




Sara Ugolini Profile Pic



Red Hook Community Center

For 20 years, Sara has worked and volunteered in nonprofits across Dutchess County, always in an effort to create opportunities for people to come together and form meaningful connections. Before she joined us at RHCC, Sara proudly served residents of eastern Dutchess as the Director of Community Engagement at Northeast Community Center. Sara is a member of the District-Level Team for Red Hook Central School District, a member of Red Hook Together, and a sector representative for the Northern Dutchess Community Coalition. She is a 16 year resident of Rhinebeck and proud mother to two children.

Annual Sponsors

Premier Annual Sponsors: Central Hudson Gas & Electric, M&T Bank, Orange & Rockland, Pratt & WhitneyAnnual Sponsors: IBM, Resorts World, RBT, TD Bank, Ulster Savings