Lenore Lelah Person
Marketing and Communications Manager
Lenore Lelah Person is Beczak’s Marketing and Communication Manager and oversees all of the organization’s fundraising and communication efforts. She holds a B.A. in Writing from Houghton College and a M.A. in Public Communication from Fordham University, and spent the first half of her career developing and licensing products for direct marketing companies. Her freelance writing, however, followed her personal interests more closely and her pieces include Bannerman Island: A Mystery Island on the Hudson and The History of Hudson River Ferries for hudsonriver.com.
Lenore learned about Beczak Environmental Education Center around ten years ago through a story in her local newspaper. She came to visit and heard talk of a Beczak canoe and kayak trip from Albany to Yonkers. As a long-time summer camp canoe instructor, she jumped on the opportunity to join in. After spending five days with about eight other river-lovers in a big wooden canoe, her friendship with Beczak was firmly established although that trip marked the beginning of her shift to kayaking.
Lenore has served on her town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Committee and is a member of the Appalachian Mountain Club. She’s delighted to be able to combine her environmental sensibilities and love of the outdoors with her communication and marketing skills at Beczak.
A Hudson Valley native, Lenore and her husband have renovated several houses along the river. Now—when it is not soccer season—they and their two girls love to bicycle to their town’s farmers market and explore local hiking trails.
Director of Education and Outreach
Victoria Garufi, a native of Yonkers, joined Beczak in 2005 as an educator responsible for designing and delivering interactive educational programs as well as assisting with exhibit design and creation. Currently, as Education Program Manager, she is responsible for scheduling and coordinating all education programs as well as training and supervising the education staff. She still manages to teach programs and maintain the aquaria, including cradling hogchokers (as seen in picture). She has a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from Long Island University’s Southampton College.
During her studies, Garufi worked as an educator at The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT, teaching classes about local flora and fauna and working on the Marine Life Study Cruises aboard the Research Vessel Oceanic. She also worked in the Interactive Salt Marsh at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, NY, as well as at The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation , where she a ssisted with all aspects of husbandry, rescue, release and rehabilitation of seals and sea turtles . And she served as a plover steward for the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation, helping protect the endangered piping plovers of the local beaches from the threat of extinction.
Garufi has long had an active interest in fresh and saltwater ecology. She spent a semester-at-sea aboard The Californian, a 145-foot schooner, sailing down the Baja peninsula from Long Beach, CA. She also is a certified water safety instructor and waterfront lifeguard. She also holds certifications in CPR, First Aid, and Connecticut Safe Boating.
Vicky enjoys working at Beczak, and is happy to have found her niche along the Hudson River. She has helped create new programs and exhibits designed to educate both children and adults about the wonders and importance of Hudson River ecology. She looks forward to the new and exciting opportunities to come her way.
Educator and Outreach Coordinator
Jason Muller joined Beczak as an educator in 2008 and since then has also taken on the role of Outreach Coordinator. As an educator, he is responsible for developing and teaching hands-on programs both off-site and at Beczak. He also heads up 2 weekly after school environmental clubs as well as boy scout programs. In addition, Jason has taken on the task of maintaining and updating Beczak’s website including troubleshooting the Hudson River Estuary real-time data section. When Jason isn’t in the classroom he is working in the field with Beczak’s dedicated team of volunteers. It is his goal to get as many people involved in Beczak’s mission as possible. An eagle scout, Jason has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and a Master of Science in Educational Technology from Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Jason got his feet wet as an intern for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s Meadowlands Environment Center. Upon the completion of his internship, Jason was awarded the position of Post-Baccalaureate Fellow. This position is given yearly to one Ramapo College graduate. While at the Meadowlands, he taught salt marsh ecology programs for k-12 students, scouts, and senior citizens. He was also responsible for the care of the center’s 3 diamondback terrapins and many fish tanks. Additionally, Jason spent time teaching on the beach for Brookdale Community College’s Ocean Institute at Sandy Hook. Most recently, Jason was an Education Specialist for the National Parks of New York Harbor Education Center. In addition to teaching New York Harbor history and ecology programs, Jason was the project coordinator for the development of the year long Marine Invaders of Jamaica Bay field program. Students from several New York City high schools participated in the monitoring of invasive species in Jamaica Bay.
Jason is a newcomer to Yonkers, originally from New Jersey and is looking forward to experiencing all the city has to offer on this side of the George Washington Bridge. In his spare time, he loves to go camping and hiking and often travels to the American West to explore. Beczak is happy to have Jason on board, his passion and dedication adds to the dynamic of the education department. He is excited to be a part of the staff at Beczak and can’t wait to share his experiences with you.