The Project Team Was
- Executive Support
- Joshua Simons, Research Associate, CRREO
Gerald Benjamin joined the faculty at SUNY New Paltz in 1968 as an Assistant Professor of Political Science. He achieved the University's highest rank in 2002 when he was appointed Distinguished Professor by the SUNY Board of Trustees. He has served as Chair of the Department of Political Science, Presiding Officer of the faculty and (for twelve years beginning in 1996) Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Today, Benjamin is Associate Vice President for Regional Engagement and Director of the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY New Paltz. CRREO is the principal locus of the college's efforts to raise its level of engagement within communities, governments, not-for-profits and businesses across the Hudson Valley. It seeks to conduct research on regional topics; encourage faculty to build regionally-based service activity into their scholarship and teaching; create and direct institutes and programs to meet regional needs; and offer conferences and programs on matters of regional interest.
Benjamin was director of the Center for the New York State and Local Government Studies at SUNY's Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany (1993-1995). Later he was appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo as Research Director of the Temporary State Commission on Constitutional Revision. He also was Principal Research Advisor to the New York City Charter Revision Commission that brought about extensive structural changes in that city's government.
Between 2004 and 2006 Benjamin chaired the Ulster County Charter Commission. The work of this commission resulted in approval at the polls of the county's first charter, which goes into effect in January of 2009. In 2007, Benjamin was appointed by Governor Spitzer to the State Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness that this past April proposed wide-reaching reforms in local government in New York State.
Between 1981 and 1993 Gerald Benjamin was an elected member of the Ulster County legislature. He served in legislative leadership as both Majority Leader (1985-91) and Chairman (1991-93). Ulster County during this time had no elected executive; the legislative chairman was therefore the County's Chief Elected Officer. Ulster County during Dr. Benjamin's tenure had a budget of $165 million and more than 1300 employees.
Benjamin earned a B.A. with distinction from St. Lawrence University. His Masters (1967) and Doctoral (1970) degrees in Political Science are from Columbia University.
Brian Kolb was first elected to represent New York State's 129th Assembly District when a special election was held in February 2000 and was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. On April 6, 2009, he was unanimously elected Minority Leader by his colleagues. Assemblyman Kolb’s district includes Cayuga, Cortland, Onondaga, Ontario, and Seneca Counties.
Brian’s legislative priorities include reducing taxes, improving the quality of education, fostering job creation, providing sound health care and reforming state government. He is dedicated to ensuring that residents and businesses throughout the district receive effective, responsive constituent service and timely assistance with state government inquiries. Brian’s principal goal is to be easily accessible and approachable to the people he represents. In a short time, he has gained a reputation for hard work, producing results and being very active in his district with a down-to-earth, straight-talking approach.
Assemblyman Kolb possesses a wealth of valuable private sector experience acquired as a business consultant, entrepreneur and chief operating officer of a variety of small and large technology based businesses. He is the former president of Refractron Technologies and a co-founder of the North American Filter Corporation.
Brian has demonstrated a strong commitment to education throughout both his personal life and his professional career. He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Adult and Graduate Education at Roberts Wesleyan College, where his students have twice selected him Outstanding Faculty Member. He is a former Chairman of the Finger Lakes Community College Foundation and is a former member of the Honeoye Central School Board and the Finger Lakes Community College Board of Trustees. Brian earned high honors while completing his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science Degrees at Roberts Wesleyan College.
Community involvement and public service have been hallmarks of Assemblyman Kolb’s background. He is currently a member of the Canandaigua Rotary Club, the Honeoye Chapter of the Sons of the American Legion, Ontario Charities Classic Board of Directors, member of the Ontario ARC Advisory Board, Honorary Board Member of Finger Lakes HealthQuest Foundation, a member of Merrill Hose Fire Company in Canandaigua, a member of the New York Farm Bureau, and is a Notary Public. Brian previously served as Supervisor for the Town of Richmond, Chairman of Leadership Rochester’s Board of Directors, and as a member of the Ontario County Revolving Loan Fund Committee, the Ontario County Board of Supervisors and the New York State Public Authorities Control Board.
Mr. Kolb is a member of the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Heartland Institute’s Board of Legislative Advisors, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the League of Women Voters, the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Shooters’ Committee On Political Education (SCOPE), Safari Club International, the American Irish Legislators Society and the Knights of Columbus.
Brian lives in Canandaigua with his wife Lauren and has three grown children, sons Britton and Clayton, daughter Kylie, and one grandson, Everett.
Joshua Simons, Research Assistant to Professor Gerald Benjamin
Joshua Simons holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, magna cum laude (2008), from SUNY New Paltz, where he received the department’s Outstanding Senior award. He is the co-author of CRREO’s 2nd Discussion Brief, A Collaborative, Regional Approach to Jailing in the Hudson Valley. His most recent work includes directing the development of the New Paltz Online Interactive Mapping Application to display information on historic properties, managing the database for the Ulster County Intergovernmental Collaboration study. He has also taken the lead on the New York State funded feasibility study on the potential for collaboration amongst the county jails in the Hudson Valley.
Benjamin Kallos was our Executive Director who used his skill sets in law, politics, public policy and technology to help improve our laws. His distinguished service includes serving Former Public Advocate Mark Green, Assembly Member Jonathan L. Bing, and the Open Government Foundation. He was recently recognized by the New York Observer for creating several civic websites including VoterSearch.org for voter education, OpenLegislation.org for legislative advocacy and transparency, and NYCPoliticalCalendar.com a crowd sourced political calendar.
Mr. Kallos joined New Roosevelt with the belief that the through the study of our State Constitution we can make it more effective so that the New York State can once again be a national leader.
Prior to joining Sunshine, Sachs and Associates, Jay Strell has worked for more than a decade in Democratic and progressive politics. In 2004, he was the Communications Director and New York office director for Rock the Vote. During the Clinton Administration he worked as a press secretary at the State Department and at the United Nations for US UN Ambassadors Bill Richardson and Richard Holbrooke.
Holding a B.A. in political science and history and a masters in international development from the University of St. Andrews, Mike's research focuses primarily on pension reform and other labor-related issues. Prior to joining New Roosevelt, Michael served as Deputy Campaign Director for a New York City Council campaign, as a legislative intern in the U.S. House of Representatives, and as a graduate research assistant, conducting fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina on the subject of post-war youth unemployment.