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The 8th Annual Dutchess County Leadership Prayer Breakfast was conducted Virtual live on

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020 at Noon

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About Our Speakers

Anthony Wittek has been a lifelong resident of Dutchess County. He graduated from Rhinebeck high school, and attended Dutchess Community college where he earned a degree in criminal justice. He is currently employed with the Dutchess County Sheriffs Office. 

Neil Fick is a native of Minnesota where he lived when he was inducted into the U.S. Army shortly after Germany surrendered and the war in Europe ended. He was sent to Jefferson Barracks Missouri and later transferred to the Army Air Corps. After training at Shepherd Field in Texas he was sent to the Asiatic/Pacific Theatre and finished his service in the Army Occupation at Yokota Army air base near Tokyo, Japan. After discharge he concluded his studies at the University of Minnesota, and with his wife came to New York to accept a position at the Texaco Research Center in Beacon, NY where he worked for 36 years. Sgt. Fick has been a resident of Dutchess County for 71 years.

Jacob Reckess is Vice President of Poughkeepsie-based PAZ Management, Inc (PAZ). Through its affiliates, PAZ owns and operates three Hudson Valley assisted living facilities, including the Avalon Assisted Living & Social Day Program in Wappingers Falls and Dutchess Care ALP in Poughkeepsie. PAZ is also active in real estate development and management, including the Arthur May Redevelopment project on Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie. PAZ also manages the non-profit, Pathways Community Support Services, which provides transitional housing in Hyde Park. Jacob likes to play tennis, bike-ride and volunteer his time, including service on the Boards of PEOPLe-USA and ESAAL (Empire State Association of Assisted Living).  Jacob is a proud Dutchess County by-product. Jacob was born in Poughkeepsie and raised as a member of Temple Beth El in Poughkeepsie.

Michele Belmonte is an Executive Aide for the Dutchess County Legislature. She is a practicing Catholic, with her husband of 19 years, Biagio and two children, Daniel (16) and Juliana (13). She works part time at the County Legislature office which she sincerely enjoys. In her free time she is often found running to sporting events, spending time with family, friends and God. 

Karmen Smallwood serves as Dutchess County’s Assistant Commissioner for Youth Services. In this capacity, she oversees the Path To Promise Initiative, an ambitious endeavor to ensure all young people in Dutchess County - from birth to age 19 have the assets they need to achieve their full potential as they grow into young adults. Prior to Joining the Department of Community and Family Services, Ms. Smallwood served as a Probation Officer with the Dutchess County Department of Probation and Community Corrections where she spearheaded numerous initiatives to promote public safety and reduce recidivism. Ms. Smallwood is a parent, educator and community activist who strives to inspire and empower others with compassion and humility.

Becky Gallaher is the Operations Coordinator at the Fishkill location of Grace Community Church. Becky’s heart is to serve the community and encourage the development of volunteers by helping them learn and understand the impact they can make when they serve others. Becky is married to her best friend, Peter. They have 4 adult children, 2 grandchildren, Loki their cat and a new German Shepherd puppy named Lucy.

David Bray is volunteer NYS Chaplain and Gideon Chaplain for the Rockland camp. Retired union iron worker married to Adelyn Bray with 3 sons they make their home in Rockland county N.Y.

County Executive Marc Molinaro is currently in his third term as Dutchess County’s 7th County Executive and has served as a public servant since he was first elected to public office as Village of Tivoli trustee at the age of 18.  He served six terms as Tivoli’s mayor, four terms as Dutchess County Legislator and three terms as New York State Assemblyman. He resides in Red Hook with his wife and four children.

Ray Watkins was born, January 13th, 1950, in Poughkeepsie NY, the fourth and final child of Alexander and Nora Johnson-Watkins. He is the husband of Yvonne, and a father and grandfather.  Ray was educated in the City of Poughkeepsie School District and graduated from Poughkeepsie High School, with a Regents Diploma in 1968. He was hired by IBM immediately after graduation in June 1968.  In November 1968, Ray enlisted in the United States Navy at the height of the Vietnam conflict, and served in the 6th Fleets. His assignment were on two Destroyers and one Ammunition Carrier, traveling to Europe, South America, Africa, Middle East, and parts of Asia. Ray received an Honorable Discharge in 1973 as a Petty Officer Second Class. Upon his return from the military, he continued with IBM, and retired in 1998, after 30 years of service. Ray is a life-long musician and was the musician and choir director for the Church of the Living God for 40 years (plus or minus) and served on the Deacon Board, Board of Trustees, Sunday School Teacher, State and National Youth leader and General Council member. Ray later played for St. Mark AME Zion, Second Baptist Church, and Church of God of Prophecy. Additionally, he played keyboard for a choral ensemble based at Ebeneezer Baptist Church, The Voices of Faith Community Choir, The Gospel Hi-Notes, member of the Poughkeepsie inaugural chapter of The Reverend James Cleveland Gospel Workshop, and Co-Founder and Program Director of Spirit of Unity. While serving in the United States Navy, Ray performed in the Ship's Band, and performed as Good Will ambassadors, in Europe, Africa and South America, and the Middle East.

Jacqueline Cedeño-Martinez is of Ecuadorean descent. First generation born and raised in Ossining, NY. She studied her elementary years in NY and graduated middle and high school in Ecuador. She is fluent in both English and Spanish which has helped in her career. Jackie has a BS in Public Accounting, Masters of Information Systems and Post Masters in Education Technology from Pace University. She is currently the Assistant director for Global Finance Infrastructure at Ernst and Young. She has worked for prestigious companies such as Random House publishers, Readers Digest, Morgan Stanley and Oracle as Financial Analyst, System Administrator and Consultant respectively. She has also taught technology at the Chapin school in NYC. She has traveled throughout the country and overseas implementing technology in the finance industry. When she is not working she enjoys life with her 3 boys and husband here in the Hudson Valley since they are all nature lovers. Jackie also volunteers at her local church as Sunday school teacher, women’s group and is passionate about the marriage ministry she leads together with her husband.

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