HIGHLAND MILLS – Orange County Democratic Women announced its selection of this year’s Under 30 Leadership Honorees. Four future leaders, under the age of 30, have been singled out to receive special recognition. A tribute dinner is scheduled for April 30 and will celebrate these young leaders. The OCDW 2017 award dinner called “Phoenix Rising,” is at the Black Forest Mill in Highland Mills. The Phoenix is the mythological bird who rises from the ashes. OCDW named the event after it in reference to results of the 2016 elections. Dinner tickets are $75 and are available at www.OrangeCountyDemocraticWomen.org.
Plans for this event were initiated right after the 2016 elections. Voters under the age of 30 moved away from traditional political candidates at a higher rate than those in other age brackets. In 2016 baby boomers and Millennials changed the face of politics in terms of policy, preferences and styles. Future leaders were evolving but they were communicating and organizing through social media rather than through traditional political activities. Since then seeking political change through democratic process has continued to change both in intensity and in style.
OCDW created a process to identify future leaders. The competition was more extreme than ever. The search committee sorted through many nominations. The 4 finalists were chosen because their stories represent a range of potential game changers for Democratic politics. They are do –gooders whose passion and goals are suited the dynamic world of today’s politics and the impatience of the digital world they come from. All under 30 years of age, the four honorees are challenging conventional wisdom and rewriting the rules for the next generation of leaders and public service.
“We know there are other young leaders out there. Our goal is to showcase these four individuals to demonstrate how new leaders think and how they differ from their predecessors. They are bridges between generations and will help to us rebuild a political party befitting the 21 century,” said Willa Freiband, past president OCDW.
These four are indicative of the passion many young people have.” There are already people engaged and working to break the status quo. OCDW is happy to learn from them and have them learn from us how to transform the world. We think Phoenix will be uplifting and informative,” concluded Ms. Freiband.
This inspiring list includes: (Their bios are below) Carlos Valle from Monroe; Frank Pacella from Newburgh; Katelyn Israelski from Goshen; Allison Biasotti from Cornwall:
* Frank Pacella – From Newburgh; In 2012, Frank spent hours knocking on voters’ doors one door at a time as a volunteer. He worked on the Chris Eachus NYS Senate campaign.
Following the historic reelection of President Obama, Frank had his first foray into public service as a staffer for New York State Assemblyman Frank Skartados, whose office was in his home town, Newburgh. During those three years, he helped New Yorkers work with government issues, advocating for them with agencies like the Social Security Administration, the Dept. of Health, their town or city councils, and other levels of government. After high school, he travelled around New York State, engineering support across upstate New York for Hillary Clinton during the primary. After spending time in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, he marched alongside New York’s first openly gay congressperson in the 2016 NYC Pride Parade. In 2016, he was again stumping for Chris Eachus as Campaign Coordinator. He is currently at SUNY Albany and is considering public service as a career.
* Katelyn Israelski – from Goshen; Katelyn graduated from New York University in 2014 after double majoring in Journalism and Politics. During her undergraduate experience, Katelyn worked as News Director of WNYU Radio and traveled to Accra, Ghana to participate in a foreign correspondence journalism program. Following graduation, she left to intern at a bilingual online news startup in Madrid, before taking on a fulltime position with MSNBC.
During her time with MSNBC, Katelyn was responsible for the production of all graphic elements on both The Rachel Maddow Show and MSNBC’s late-night breaking news coverage. Katelyn left The Rachel Maddow Show to pursue a career in public service, taking on a role as Regional Assistant with the Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, where she served in both New York City and the Hudson Valley. During the 2016 Presidential Campaign, Katelyn was hired as the Hillary for America Westchester Organizer, and was responsible for managing all operations in Hillary Clinton’s home county. Today, Katelyn works as the Southern Hudson Valley Regional Director in the State Comptroller’s Office of Intergovernmental and Community Affairs.
* Allison Biasotti – from Cornwall; Allison is an Orange County resident. While in high school, she was Student President of Cornwall High School’s Parent Teacher Student Organization, President of the Varsity Club, Cheerleading Captain, and Volunteer Cornwall Cheerleading Coach. She attended Binghamton University where she continued her community activities and began focusing on political activity. Allison developed a reputation for standing up for those who were voiceless. Since graduating, she has dedicated herself to advocating for others and fighting the battles that others backed away from. Allison describes herself as going from protests, to organizing, to being the loudest voice in the quietest room, to attempting to give a voice to those who remain voiceless. She began her public service as an intern learning the ins and outs of democracy first hand. She currently works for the Democratic Leader, United States Senator Charles E. Schumer as the Hudson Valley Regional Director. Prior to that, she was the Deputy Regional Director for Senator Charles Schumer. Community outreach is a major component of her job.
* Carlos Valle – from Monroe. Carlos started helping in his parents’ restaurant before he was 15. In college he transitioned to the kitchen, and after graduating, he worked full time as a manager. Carlos has a passion for cooking and continues to work at night to help pay off student loans. His political activism when financial crisis hit his family. His father owned a family business in Woodbury. In 2008 the business took a major hit financially. His mother took a second full time job to be able to afford health insurance. Carlos saw how the system was failing the middle class. Unable to sit on the sidelines and know that families like his were having the same misfortune, he became interested in activism. He was involved in the “Occupy Wallstreet” movement at the financial district in Manhattan. He was later involved in organizing the Albany Occupy Wall Street Branch and staging many protests outside and inside the Capitol building. He attended immigrant rallies in Poughkeepsie, New York and the Women’s March on Washington D.C. with his mother.
Carlos studied Political Science with a minor in Economics at the Rockefeller Institute of Public Policy SUNY Albany and became a teacher assistant in his Junior/Senior year for public policy classes. At the same time he interned at Senator Schumer’s Albany Regional Office. He currently works full time for Assemblyman James Skoufis as his Coordinator of Legislative & Community Affairs where he handles all the legislation in the office. This includes drafting language for bills, speaking with committee staff to make sure the bills are properly vetted so they have the opportunity to be voted on in the Assembly. The other major portion of his job is handling constituent cases. He works with state agencies to eliminate red tape for constituents, as well as fight with insurance companies to ensure constituents are being treated fairly. There’s new cases everyday and he works around the clock to help the average citizen, saying no issue is too small.
In addition, Carlos participated in Habitat for Humanity in Newburgh and continues stay engaged in the political activities in Monroe. Between working for Senator Schumer and Assemblyman Skoufis, Carlos continues to learn every day. Since 2008, he has been involved on a daily basis, whether it’s work in his office or on weekend/nights attending rallies and letter writing campaigns to show solidarity with the majority of the American people. Coming from a family with immigrant parents, Carlos is inspired to continue fighting even harder for immigrants, LGBTQ and anyone else who will be directly affected by ill-advised policies that are coming from D.C. He has stated that he plans to continue to do his part and fight for progressive democratic values.
In addition to the under 30 honorees, special awards will be presented to Laura Garcia and Roseanne Sullivan.