Ahmad Free-Cohen

Ahmad Free-Cohen, the vice president of Melanin Unchained, follows the blueprints of civil rights leaders before him in orienting toward a life of service to community. He stays focused on the solutions in his efforts to solve the social and environmental problems of his hometown of Newburgh, NY.

Andrés Chamorro

Andrés Chamorro is the youth empowerment coordinator for the Rural & Migrant Ministry. He works with youth to use art as a bridge to communicate the struggles they are going through in their communities and homes. He helps them see that who they are is a gift.

Kevindaryán Luján

Kevindaryán Luján, the first Latino legislator (and the youngest legislator) in Orange County, was instrumental in establishing Newburgh as a Sanctuary City and is passionate about racial justice, environmental equity, and addressing the issues that need to be tackled to keep his community safe and allow it to thrive.

Serena Padilla

Serena Padilla, program manager of Land to Learn in Newburgh, NY, wants people to feel connected to their land and have access to space to grow food. She has a passion for facilitating spaces of learning and listening where everyone feels heard, valued, and safe.

Tim McQueen

Tim McQueen is a community activist, entrepreneur and founder of the music group Ill Harmonic, which includes 11th and 12th graders alongside professional musicians. He is most vocal about equity for those who have been marginalized and creating spaces for youth to have a voice.

Christine Hutchinson

Christine Hutchinson is the founder of Our Core, a nonprofit working to empower marginalized youth in Newburgh through innovative programs like agricultural education, which gets kids’ hands in the dirt and helps develop a sense of responsibility and accomplishment, as well as a connection to the place they call home.

Joyneia Joyner

In memory of Joyneia — the local activist who brought her faith out of the church and into the streets to help her Poughkeepsie neighbors. She worked with the homeless and with youth. Sadly, Joyneia passed away in 2021, but the ripples of her passion and care can still be felt today.

Joe Alvarez

Joe Alvarez, the founder of We Are Newburgh, couldn’t stand watching so many youth in his town destroy their lives. As a former drug dealer and gang member himself, today he’s using his street cred to foster safety, love, and community. And it all started with one cookout.

Shaniqua Bowden

Shaniqua Bowden LOVES the land of the Hudson Valley. As the Culture and Community Engagement Captain of the Kingston Land Trust, she works to help people reestablish a connection to the land around them and to use it responsibly.

Tyrone Wilson

Tyrone Wilson didn’t learn the dignity of being Black while he was growing up, but he turned his early experiences into a life of service. As the founder of Harambee, a coalition that supports and promotes the strength of community through cultural and educational events, he has been instrumental in preserving the Pine Street Burial Ground in Kingston, a burial site for enslaved Africans.