Board Member Bios

2023 Board of Directors

Cathi Annese

Cathi studied Education at CUNY.  After graduation, she studied Horticulture at SUNY Farmingdale.  She then went on to work at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens as Director of Children's & Community Horticulture for 10+ years.  While working at BBG, Cathi taught numerous Horticulture classes at BOCES and also trained volunteers to give educational tours of BBG and to work in the education department as "teacher assistants".

Cathi then retired to Greene County in 1995, joining CCE as a 4-H Leader in 1996.  She served on the Board of Directors for CCE of Greene County for two years then on the Board of Directors for CCE Columbia and Greene for six years. While on the Board, Cathi was Secretary for two years and Board President for two years. Cathi has also served on the 4-H program committee since it's inception and chaperoned many 4-H trips!.

Virginia Benedict

undefinedGinger lives in Greenville with her husband, Michael, and all of her children grew up there. Ginger herself grew up in Catskill and graduated from SUNY Geneseo and Albany Law School. She has been practicing law for over thirty years. Her law office is in Hudson giving her a great connection to both Greene County, where she makes her home, and Columbia County, where she has her business.

Ginger was a Kiskatom Hilltopper as a child and went on to lead her own girls in 4-H in Greenville in conjunction with Jeanne Bear. Her daughters and her son all participated for many years exhibiting at the Greene County Youth Fair.

Ginger has served on the Board since 2017.

Michael Brown

undefinedMichael is a Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Bowery Capital, a venture capital firm based in New York and San Francisco. Prior to Bowery Capital, Brown was a Co-Founder and General Partner at AOL Ventures. Before AOL Ventures, Brown worked for the investment arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. He began his career at Morgan Stanley as an equity research analyst covering systems hardware and technology infrastructure. Outside of his professional life, Brown is based in Germantown NY and an avid fisherman and passionate conservationist. He serves on the Board of Directors of the National Forest Foundation and the Columbia College Alumni Association. He holds a B.A. from Columbia University.

Sandra Gardner

undefinedSandra Gardner and James Gardner live in Hillsdale, NY, and are proud parents of three sons. They recently welcomed a daughter-in-law into the immediate family, Dylan, Ben (Monika), and Hunter. All three boys started 4-H at the age of 5 as Cloverbuds. Sandra is a 4-H alumnus from Niagara County and began volunteering with 4-H as soon as she turned 21. She has been a volunteer ever since!

Professionally, Sandra is the Director of Instruction and Staff Development at Taconic Hills Central School District. She holds two Master’s degrees from Niagara University, School Administration, and Business Administration. Her undergraduate degree is from Cornell University- College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is currently a doctorate candidate and studying online at Concordia University-Portland.

The Gardner family enjoys spending time together, and leisure activities include spending time with their Jersey cattle, floral arranging, hiking, and playing board games together.

Billy Greer

undefinedI have served on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia & Greene Counties’ Board for 3 years, including two years as Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance and Human Resources Committee. I enjoy supervising the 4-H volunteers at the Columbia County Fair Milk Bar, since taking on that role in 2016. My wife Kira and I co-lead the Baker’s Dozen 4-H Club, which includes our 15-year-old triplets as members. I love carrying on the 4-H tradition with my family, as some of my favorite childhood memories are of my 15 years of 4-H experiences. I currently serve on the 4-H Program Advisory Committee. I am also an evaluator for Public Presentations and the Columbia County Fair. I work as a Regional Director of Operations for Five Guys Burgers and Fries, currently overseeing 150+ restaurants throughout the Northeast and Canada. In my downtime, my family and I enjoy working on our small farm and spending time together in the Adirondacks.

Roberta Keller

undefinedRoberta Keller is the daughter of Gale and Judy Bury. She grew up in Columbia County and graduated from Ichabod Crane. She was a member of the Blondies 4-H club for 10 years. She attended Plattsburgh State and graduated with a Bachelor's degree of science in chemistry. After graduation, Roberta helped her mom continue the club. She married Kent Keller in 1987 and they have four children. When their son Brett was old enough, Roberta started the Udderly Impossibles 4-H club and has continued the club. Roberta received her Master's degree from Sage Colleges and teaches math at Chatham Middle school. She is active in her church and teaches Sunday school. In her spare time, she enjoys sewing, quilting, and gardening.

Linda Levitt

undefinedLinda’s career started as an Insurance Broker specializing in the sale of employee benefits programs to large and small corporations.She very quickly began her own insurance agency and was the owner and President for 30 years.

Since that time, Linda has retired.She became a Master Gardener Volunteer in 2014 in Columbia and Greene Counties. In addition to her volunteering in NY, she sits on the Educational Committee and conducts tours at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, MA.

She currently resides in Copake with her husband, Bob and Wheaten terrier, Cassie.

Dr. Joshua Lipsman


Dr. Joshua Lipsman has been on the Extension board for four years. He is a medical doctor, an attorney, and a public health professional. He currently works as a medical director for Fidelis. He is a former Westchester County health commissioner. His medical specialty is public health and general preventive medicine.

Josh has lived in Athens since 2007. He is a board trustee of the Village of Athens, and a member of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society board. He lives in Athens with his spouse Jessica Sorge.

Matt Maraglio

I began with the board one year ago and have enjoyed serving the community in this role. I have an educational background in forest and natural resource management, forest technology and land surveying and have enjoyed working in these fields for nearly 15 years in the public and private sector. I live in Cairo with my wife and two boys where we enjoy pursuing the outdoor activities that our area has to offer.

Amanda Pierro

Amanda Pierro is a resident of Hudson and has lived in Columbia County for almost 20 years. For the past 16 years, she’s worked for the Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties, Inc. In a variety of roles including a victim advocate and program director. Amanda and her husband have two children and a black lab. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and camping. Amanda currently serves as Co-Chair of the Columbia County Mental Health and Alcohol/Substance Abuse Subcommittee of the CC Community Services Board and is a board member of multiple statewide and community boards.

Alicia McCagg

undefinedMy name is Alicia McCagg and I am a lifelong resident of Columbia County. I have served as a board member at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties for the past 3 years. I grew up on a fruit farm in West Taghkanic where I have helped my family at their farm store, Taconic Orchards, over the years. I am a 1994 graduate of Cornell University and received my Master’s degree from Russell Sage College. For the past 23 years, I have been a special education teacher in the Hudson City School District where I have taught life skills to my students. I reside in Greenport with my husband, Michael, and our twins, Connor (Sage ‘22) and Kayleigh (UVM ‘21). In my spare time, I enjoy baking, canning, flower and vegetable gardening, and making wreaths.

Dr. Rebecca Pinder

undefinedRebecca Pinder grew up in rural upstate New York where she spent her time riding and showing horses with 4-H and exploring the local landscape. Her fascination with life along streams and lakes led her to pursue a degree in Biology from SUNY Cortland and later studied salamander biology at John Carroll University in Cleveland where she received her Master’s degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. After returning to New York, she attended the University at Albany and studied interactions between earthworms and stream-side salamanders. Earning her Doctoral degree, she looked to share her love of the natural world with others and became an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia-Greene Community College.She currently teaches anatomy and physiology courses as well as general ecology courses, including the River Ecology course held at the Hudson River Field Station. She currently spends her spare time running and hiking through the Catskill Mountains with her family.

Virgilia Tegiacchi


Virgilia Tegiacchi is a Tax Specialist at Farm Credit East, ACA where she specializes in tax preparation, planning, and accounting. Virgilia has been with Farm Credit for 24 years and plays a significant role in the Claverack office’s tax preparation team including preparation of complex tax returns and mentoring new staff members.

Virgilia holds a B.S. from Cornell University and has an Enrolled Agent designation with the IRS.

Virgilia has always been involved in agriculture. She grew up on a small farm in Schoharie, NY, where she currently runs a small haying operation. Virgilia resides in Athens, NY, with her fiancé Kenn.

Last updated October 3, 2023