Lead For


Sharon Quituisaca, Extension Fellow '19 + Travis Ghidharie, Hometown Fellow '19

The Challenge

The City of Poughkeepsie is located 68 miles north of New York City and is situated within Dutchess County and the Mid-Hudson Valley region. Famously known as, “The Queen City on the Hudson,” it is a place of great historical significance, experiencing a rapid urban revitalization that provides a once-in-a generation opportunity to catalyze a renaissance rooted in principles of equity and inclusion. The nonprofit architecture firm MASS Design Group has labeled Poughkeepsie a “fringe city” due to its size, racial and socioeconomic disparities and unique challenges in recovering from the scars of urban renewal. Lead for Poughkeepsie strives to shift this narrative and transform our image from a ‘fringe city’ into a demonstration city. 


Despite the pioneering and enterprising history of the Hudson Valley (and the City of Poughkeepsie in particular) the region is experiencing an outflux of educated young professionals that threatens the social, civic, and economic future of the region. Data from the nonprofit think tank Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress show that between 2000 and 2017 the number of jobs held by 22-45 year olds declined by 9%. By sector, the number of jobs held by 22-45 year olds declined by 30% in Public Administration between 2000 and 2017. 


Moreover, the impact of these trends is amplified in Poughkeepsie relative to the larger region and Dutchess County, as Poughkeepsie experiences severe economic, educational, and political disparities compared to neighboring communities. In the 2018-19 academic year, the City of Poughkeepsie School District reported a 54% high school graduation rate compared to a rate of 85% in Dutchess County. The household median income in Poughkeepsie is $42,296 compared to $78,028 in Dutchess County, where 73% of public school students are from economically disadvantaged households. Additionally, home ownership rates in the City of Poughkeepsie are 34% while the rate is 64% in Dutchess County. 

Lead for Poughkeepsie aims to address these opportunity gaps by spearheading the development of a  place-based movement that empowers young people in Poughkeepsie to tackle pressing public problems in our City in collaboration with nonprofits, government agencies and other social impact organizations.

Staff/Photo of PK/Other

Our Vision


That Poughkeepsie becomes a place that is:

A vibrant and inclusive place to live

A city that has a robust pipeline of public leaders and entrepreneurs 


Serves as a convening place for people from around the region and the world.


Our Mission

To advance a citywide movement of civic renewal that focuses on: 

1) Attracting and retaining talent across all sectors in the greater Poughkeepsie region and training that talent to be civic leaders.


2) Creating new public narratives that position Poughkeepsie globally and connect its emerging leaders to local, regional and national social change ecosystems, resources and organizations.

3) Collaborating with local school systems and higher education institutions to develop customized civic engagement and leadership programming that increases students’ involvement in the community and desire to stay and/or return after graduation.

Our Approach

Our signature program is the LFPK Hometown Fellowship. We recruit, train, and place young leaders with ties to the City of Poughkeepsie in two-year paid hometown fellowships in mission-driven organizations with bold visions that often lack the capacity to attract and retain the next generation of civic leaders to carry it forward. Learn more about our LFPK Fellowship Program and how to apply to be a fellow here.


LFPK is a local affiliate of Lead for America (LFA), a national 501c(3), sharing national recruitment, operations and programmatic support. We are working towards place-based revival through the three Lead for America pillars of Education, Pathways and Systems Change.

​LFPK Fellows are part of LFA's national movement of changemakers. They attend the annual Changemaker Summit, build an intimate network of locally-rooted leaders, engage in the wide breadth of LFA programming across core pillars, and have access to LFA's national network of leading mentors - which includes mayors & elected officials, Nobel Peace Prize nominees, scholarly experts, and community leaders.


Our Partners

"Being a Fellow has helped me become more creative in approaching and addressing the issues my community faces. I've been able to establish networks of support and avenues of collaboration. What could have been a frustrating and lonely journey has been exciting and empowering."

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Become a Fellow

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Host a Fellow

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Our Staff

Lead For Poughkeepsie, Executive Director

Lead For Poughkeepsie,

Deputy Director

Lead For Poughkeepsie,



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Lead For America
PO Box 56

Dodge City, KS 67801

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