Awards Photo


The Sullivan Renaissance core program consists of a two-phased grant competition that runs annually from March through August. Completed projects are evaluated by a panel of judges from outside of Sullivan County. Grantees are eligible for a second round of awards that will be announced at the awards ceremony at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on August 7. Judges are professionals in a variety of areas including horticulture, community planning, architecture and government.

Sandra Gerry's Vision

“My thoughts turned almost immediately to Sullivan County- why couldn’t we do something like that here?”

Sandra Gerry Chair, Sullivan Renaissance

Sandra and Alan Gerry

Sandra and Alan Gerry
Michael Gold photo

Lamp Post in Neversink

“I sincerely believe Sullivan Renaissance to be the single most important program ever undertaken in the history of Sullivan County.”

John Conway Sullivan County Historian

2017 Sullivan Renaissance Judges

Rabbi Shlomie Deren

Rabbi Shlomie Deren studied in Chabad Yeshivos in Detroit and Israel, and was ordained by Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, (former Chief Rabbi of Israel) and Rabbi Dovid Shochet of Toronto. He currently lives in Ellenville, NY with his wife Mushky and two daughters. He serves as the Rabbi of Congregation Ezrath Israel Chabad, and co-directs Chabad activities in the area.

Nicole Franzese

Nicole Franzese, served as the Director of the Delaware County Planning Department from 2000 through 2016. She provided technical assistance on comprehensive plans, main street revitalization, zoning review, grant writing, SEQRA compliance, and watershed management issues. Nicole has been a judge with Sullivan Renaissance since 2006.

Donna Harrison

Donna Harrison is a dedicated and passionate volunteer judge with an extensive background in community service, horticulture, forestry and the environment. Her prior experience includes the National and Provincial Communities in Bloom competition, America in Bloom and the Canadian Winter Lights program. She was employed by the city of St. Catharine’s for 34 years and for 25 years was the Superintendent of Municipal Cemeteries and Golf.

Mary Lewis

Mary Lewis is the founder of the garden design firm Barncroft. She has served as a Sullivan Renaissance judge for nine years and a garden design consultant for two years. Ms. Lewis is the past president of Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, past Zone Representative of Visiting Gardens Committee Club of America (GCA), and co-chair of GGA flower show “A Woman’s Hardy Garden.”

Peter Patel

Peter Patel is a Horticulturist and the arborist for the Orange County Arboretum in Montgomery. He is a Certified Arborist; a Certified Nursery/Landscape Professional, and a member of the Tri-County Nursery Association. He owns Arbor Heights Designs, LLC. in Orange County.

Nancy Proyect

Nancy Proyect has been President of the Orange County Citizens Foundation since 2006. Prior to that she had a public relations consulting firm serving the nonprofit, governmental and private sectors. She is active in the Town of Cornwall Economic Development Advisory Committee, the Town of Cornwall Democratic Committee, the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, Leadership Orange, and Temple Beth Jacob in Newburgh.

Odette Sabourin-Dumais

Odette Sabourin-Dumais is a Horticulturist from St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec. She has also been a national and international judge for Communities in Bloom since 1995 where she has evaluated more than 200 communities in Quebec, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Japan and the United Stated. Ms. Sabourin-Dumais is secretary-treasurer of the Communities in Bloom Executive Committee and chair of the Symposium and Awards.

Ann Smith

Ann Smith has been an avid gardener for over 50 years. She is a member of New York Botanical Garden, Friends of Boscobel and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; past board member of Cornwall Garden Club; and sales representative for Devitt's Garden & Supply in New Windsor.

RJ Smith

RJ Smith, owner of RJ Smith Realty for over 40 years is now associated with Rand Commercial. He has extensive experience in community planning, development and restoration; and helped to spearhead Pine Bush’s renaissance in the early 1980’s. RJ continues to advise communities on similar efforts. He has served on town and school boards as well as the Orange County legislature.

Deborah Sweeton

Deborah Sweeton is President and co-owner of Techni-Growers Greenhouses Inc. She has published books in Common Sense Gardener series; is past OFA board member; past chair Cornell Floriculture Advisory Committee; chaired Warwick in Bloom in 2004. She won 1st and 2nd prize in Kathy Puhfal container competition at Cornell University in 2007 and the international challenge in 2010.

Michael Sweeton

Michael Sweeton is co-owner and past vice-president for Techni-Growers Greenhouses Inc. He is a NYS Certified Nursery Professional; the Town of Warwick Supervisor; President of the Orange County Association of Towns, Villages and Cities and serves on the Orange County Citizens Foundation Board, Orange County Planning Board and the RECAP Board.

Barbara Vincentsen

Barbara Vincentsen is a licensed architect in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York; licensed professional planner and certified interior designer. She serves on the boards of the Friends of Mindowaskin Park Committee and Fairview Cemetery Committee and is a member of the Westfield Service League and Downtown Westfield Corporation Design Committee.