RUPCO staff group on June 6, 2016 at The Lace Mill, 165 Cornell Street, Kingston

RUPCO is recognized as a leader in housing and community revitalization, known for our quality work and professional staff. Our reputation has grown to a national level, as evidenced by the partnerships, funding and recognition received by organizations such as NeighborWorks® America, New York State Assocation for Affordable Housing and Rural LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation).

Achievements of this nature are dependent on strong leadership on the Board of Directors and among our Senior Staff. Our Board members are deeply engaged and provide effective oversight, encouragement and resources of time and expertise. Our Senior Staff have deep roots in the industry and in the communities we serve. All of these elements work synergistically to created a whole that is even greater than the sum of its parts.

Leah Gherardi, Chairperson, RUPCO Board of Directors
Leah Gherardi joined the RUPCO Board in 2013 and serves as Board Chair through 2021. She works as a Coordinated Assessment System Assessor for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). A graduate from SUNY New Paltz with a Masters in Special Education, Leah possesses extensive experience working in the Human Service field in various capacities. Her knowledge and passion for establishing a meaningful change in others’ lives are leading RUPCO to new horizons. Leah participated in the 2017 NeighborWorks America Excellence in Governance Program, an 18-month leadership development training for housing nonprofits.

Kevin O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer, RUPCO
As an executive in housing and community development, Mr. O’Connor enjoys 30 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector. Prior to joining RUPCO in November 2002, Mr. O’Connor had previously developed over 150 units of affordable housing with combined development budgets exceeding $14 million including homeless housing, homeownership and rental housing.



Today, Mr. O’Connor leads a dynamic organization with a staff of 65 and an annual operating budget in excess of $6.8 million dollars. RUPCO is a leading agency providing comprehensive housing and community development services in the Hudson Valley region and recently built Woodstock Commons, an intergenerational campus of 53 homes for seniors, working families and artists! In 2015, RUPCO completed creative placemaking efforts through the rehabilitation of The Lace Mill, an $18-million adaptive re-use of the former US Lace Curtain Mill Factory, located in Kingston, creating 55 rental units preferenced for artists. Currently, RUPCO has over $75 million of real estate development in its pipeline while operating five business lines: real estate development, property management, rental assistance, community development and a HomeOwnership Center. RUPCO provides nearly 2,000 units of rental assistance, manages 411 affordable housing units and is the leader in providing homeownership assistance, housing rehabilitation, energy efficiency and accessibility modifications.

Under O’Connor’s direction, RUPCO has piloted New York State programs such as the Nursing Home Transition & Diversion program, and forged significant collaboration with other nonprofits to provide Foreclosure Prevention, Homeless Prevention, and Rapid Re-Housing programs. Increasing its regional footprint, RUPCO administers the Housing Choice Voucher program in Ulster and Greene Counties and delivers housing programs in Orange and Sullivan Counties through its affiliate, RDAC. Since 2011, RUPCO has contracted with NYSERDA to market its Green Jobs | Green New York program in 10 Hudson Valley Counties including Westchester. In 2007, RUPCO received the Quality of Life Award from Pattern for Progress, a leading regional planning organization. In 2013, RUPCO’s Woodstock Commons won national recognition as a finalist in Affordable Housing Magazine’s annual awards competition and was also named Building of the Year by the Ulster County Chamber of Commerce. The Lace Mill, completed in 2015, has been recognized by several national industry leaders for its innovative work including Most Complex Financial Structuring (NH&RA), the Trailblazer Award (NYSERDA), and Upstate Project of the Year (NYSAFAH).  

Mr. O’Connor serves on the board of directors of Pattern for Progress and recently joined the national NeighborWorks Assocation board of directors. he served nine years on the NeighborWorks® America’s National Real Estate Development Committee. From 2003 to 2013, Kevin served on the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York’s Affordable Housing Advisory Housing Council. In March 2010, Mr. O’Connor graduated from Harvard University’s Achieving Excellence in Community Development, an 18-month executive leadership program presented in association with NeighborWorks® America. In March 2013, the National NeighborWorks® Association named O’Connor as its Practitioner of the Year.

Previously, Mr. O’Connor served as Associate Executive Director of Hudson River Housing in Poughkeepsie, New York. Mr. O’Connor is a 1983 graduate of Marist College with a BA in Communications and resides in New Paltz with his wife Maria and their three children.

RUPCO Board of Directors

  • Leah Gherardi – Chairperson
  • Eliza Bozenski – Vice-Chairperson
  • Adam Mandell, Esq. – Treasurer
  • Lester Strong – Secretary
  • Frank DeSiervo  – Director
  • Clifford Faintych  – Director
  • Freddimir “Freddy” García – Director
  • Christopher J. Marx – Director
  • Greer Smith – Director
  • Thomas Collins, CCIM
  • Richard Heese
  • Catherine Maloney
  • Ev Mann

Sheila Kilpatrick, Chief Operating Officer




RUPCO HomeOwnership Center Committee Advisory Council

  • Reisa Adato
  • Ryan Hastie
  • Richard Heese
  • Michael Lawlor
  • Joan Lonergan
  • Michael Lonergan Esq.
  • Anthony Pagano
  • Patti Riozzi
  • David Sosa
  • Lynne White
  • Matt Wolf


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