Skip to content
Home » About Us

About Us

We think of About Town of Dutchess and Columbia Counties as a vehicle to help cement community consciousness, as a voyage of exploration for us through a unique corner of the Hudson Valley. That corner — the four Dutchess County towns of Rhinebeck, Clinton, Red Hook, and Milan and the three Columbia County towns of Clermont, Germantown and Livingston and the city of Hudson — is a glorious mix of small scale settlements nestled amid farms, forests, fields, parks and wetlands, It is defined most of all by the Hudson River, the north-south roadways that parallel it, and the towns and villages that have grown up along that river and those roads.

Whatever the virtues of the global village, the real joys of life are always found close-at-hand. Articles in AboutTown offer informative local perspectives on the past and present, and a guide to savoring the richness of the towns and villages we live in and the people who populate them. Information is our stock in trade. The calendar of events and ongoing activities offers a comprehensive listing of performances, entertainment, recreation, clubs, activities, classes and lectures available in the community. The listings by our advertising supporters are meant to inspire you to shop wisely and — when at all possible — locally.

Roots & Community

Like most Americans nowadays — and incidentally, like nearly half of our fellow local residents — we grew up somewhere else. Though the two of us can collectively boast of two and a half decades of local experience, we grew up and pursued the first half of our adult lives farther south — in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. Putting out AboutTown has also meant for us the discovery of a rich rural and village heritage within a stone’s throw of the Northeast’s urban/suburban heartland.

Below are some brief sketches of the people behind the Dutchess/Columbia edition of AboutTown. For information about Vivian Wadlin and the Ulster County edition, please go to the Ulster About Us page; for information on the website, check out About This Site.

Gail Jaffe-Bennek — co-publisher, advertising director. Gail brings her love of people, a commitment to the Hudson Valley community, and a background in education, social work and counseling to AboutTown. In addition to AboutTown Gail’s life is filled with a wonderful family, friends and hobbies. Gail loves to kayak, scuba dive, walk/hike, cross-country ski, and garden. She is also a novice knitter and quilter.

Paul De Angelis — co-publisher, editorial director. Among his passions are history, nature, good writing and music. Paul was born in Greece, grew up in suburban Washington DC and Italy, went to school in the Boston area and spent 25 years in the New York book world as an editor, publisher, & occasional translator.

Fiona Lawrence — graphic design — Fiona has worked as an art director and graphic designer since 1992. She is the owner of Fiona Lawrence Design, a communication design agency specializing in small business development and non-profit promotion. A Bard College graduate, she lives with her husband and two children in New Paltz. Her pleasures in life include swimming, trail running and volunteer work.

Lynn Behrendt — calendar editor. Calendar editor and contributing writer Lynn Behrendt is a Bard graduate and poet. She also welds and makes sculpture. See “Lynn’s Sculpture” at She lives in Red Hook with her husband and two sons.

Regular Contributing Writers & Illustrators

Ania Aldrich was born in Poland and moved to Barrytown 35 years ago. She’s a member of the Tivoli Artists’ Coop. Her painted plates and monotypes tell stories from her personal mythology, showing people and spirits engaged in a joyful celebration of life. The drawings are an expression of the energy and spirit present in everything and everybody.

Daniel Baxter is a freelance illustrator based in Red Hook. His witty drawings have appeared in many national and international publications, as well as in books, calendars ,CD packaging, and Advertising campaigns. Some notable clients include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Penquin books, IBM, New York Magazine, Readers Digest, and PC magazine.

Sheila Buff is the author or coauthor of many books about health, nutrition, natural history, and the outdoors. Among her titles are Dr. Atkins’ Age-Defying Diet, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, The Good Fat, Bad Fat Counter, and Birding for Beginners. She lives in Milan with her husband and dog. She can be reached at

Liza Donnelly. A cartoonist for the New Yorker for twenty years, she has also written seven children’s books. She and her husband, Michael Maslin, have two daughters and live in Milan. Her most recent book is a history of the women cartoonists of the New Yorker, 2005.

Rosemary Fox began drawing at two. She has taken classes at The Art Students’ League, Pratt Institute and the Woodstock School of Art. Currently she is illustrating and painting tiles and furniture, much on commission.

Bernard Greenwald. Bernard Greenwald, an artist and professor at Bard College, contributes illustrations, artistic advice, and columns to AboutTown.

Jan Hughes, artist, muralist, writer, has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally during the past 30 years. Her early art career involved creating illustrations for use in magazines, book publishing, and advertising campaigns in both New York City and Stockholm, Sweden. Her work has evolved into abstraction.

Cait Johnson is the author of six books, including two seasonal vegetarian cookbooks and a handbook on earth-honoring parenting, and she writes for, an online environmental site. She has been a heart-centered counselor for more than twenty years, encouraging clients to become more fully and joyfully themselves. Cait lives in Rhinebeck with her son and two cats, where she is often full and sometimes joyful.

Beverly Kipp was born and raised in Columbia County and migrated to Dutchess County when she married into the historic Kipp family. She works at Northern Dutchess Hospital as a nurse and write and is the Health Ministry Coordinator at St. John’s Reformed Church in Upper Red Hook.

Carol Lee is a publicist, writer, founding member of the Lifetime Learning Institute at Bard College and former president of the Rhinebeck Garden Club.

Mary Leonard is presently a Visiting Lecturer at Trinity College but also does consulting through the Institute for Writing and Thinking at Bard College. Although she is working on a novel, her publications focus mostly on poetry and humor. Her poetry can be found in journals like Hubbub, out of Portland, Oregon, and on-line at 2River, Sometimes City, nycbigcitylit, and RedRiver.

Marita Lopez-Mena has a twenty-year background in non-profit management and development. She is a lapsed artist and aspiring travel writer. She is currently acting as development counsel for The American Museum in Britain. Marita is a Bard graduate, and lives in Woodstock with a very knowledgeable standard poodle named Pan.

Kathryn Matthews is a New York City- and Red Hook-based freelance writer who has the privilege of indulging her three greatest passions: eating (constantly!), fitness/health and travel for publications such as Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Saveur and the New York Times “Escapes”, among others. A fanatic runner, she has tread a happy path in and around Red Hook, where she lives with her husband Christopher Matthews, an oenophile who (happily for her!) writes about wine and spirits.

Michael Maslin is a freelance cartoonist whose work can be found most often in the New Yorker. He is married to cartoonist Liza Donnelly.

Mary Anne McLean is author and artist of a book of botanical time-lapse studies, Mary Anne’s Garden, published by Harry N. Abrams in New York. She has nearly completed a second volume entitled Wildlings in Fields, Woods, and Watery Places.

Cynthia Owen Philip. Cynthia Owen Philip’s books include a biography of Robert Fulton, a collection of prison writings, and a history of the Suckley family of Wilderstein. She lived Asia, New York City and Columbia County before settling in Rhinecliff where she now writes in an octagonal “room of her own.”

Andrew C. Rieser (Ph.D. 1999 University of Wisconsin-Madison), a past fellow at the Pew Center for Religion and American History, has taught at several universities in the Midwest and New York State. He co-edited the Dictionary of American History (Scribner’s, 2002) and is the author of The Chautauqua Moment (Columbia University Press, 2003). He currently teaches at Dutchess Community College and lives in Hudson, New York with his wife, Karen Rieser, and their two pampered cats, Peanut and Clarisse.

Patti Rosenbloom, a neophyte contributor, brings her clinical eye to those “over-the-top” experiences that punctuate one’s “ordinary” life. When she is not practicing social work or mothering she finds refuge in writing, yoga, meditation, “fiber arts” and running.

Frances Sandiford. A life-long Dutchess County resident and Bard College graduate, Frances is a former librarian and resident of Rhinecliff, and an activist against the death penalty.

Robert A. Schumer, M.D., Ph.D. holds a doctorate in experimental psychology and practices ophthalmology, specializing in glaucoma, in Kingston, Red Hook and New York City. He has published numerous scientific articles about visual perception, the diseased eye, and visual processing in the brain. With his wife, Ruth Oxenberg, he produced and directed the documentary film Bluegrass Journey. He plays guitar and mandolin and enjoys listening to many kinds of music. He likes reading, especially history and biography, and, when he can get away, loves skiing and hiking. He, his wife, and their three children reside in Livingston.

Neil Soderstrom is a freelance author, editor, photographer, book producer, and author agent specializing in photo-illustrated articles and books for adults and kids He has published countless articles in national magazines, including Family Handyman, Smart Homeowner, Popular Science, Outdoor Life, American Forests, Harrowsmith Country Life, Travel, Camping Journal, and Consumer’s Research. His gardening photos regularly appear in books and in Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Garden Gate, Country Living, Family Circle, Horticulture’s Garden Style, and Mother Earth News, and in publications of major botanical gardens. His three books include Heating Your Home with Wood, How to Drive to Prevent Accidents, and Chainsaw Savvy. Neil lives in southeast Dutchess County in Wingdale, NY, near his beloved Appalachian Trail.

Dirk Zimmer grew up in Hamburg, West Germany, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts during the 60s. In 1977 he came to New York City, started to work for newspapers and began writing and illustrating children’s books. He lives in the Hudson Valley, sometimes on the west and sometimes on the east side of the river.