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Women’s History Month: Women that Inspire

Women’s History Month: Women that Inspire

March 1 marks the beginning of Women’s History Month, a celebration that highlights the contributions of women to history and the present day. Here in the Sullivan Catskills, we have many women who fearlessly and generously give to our community and make it what it is. Below you will find some of our Sullivan Catskills female business owners and learn more about them.


Claire Marin

CEO/Founder of Catskill Provisions Artisanal Foods

Head Distiller at Catskill Provisions Distillery

16 Upper Main Street, Callicoon NY 12723

Claire Marin is a former magazine executive with a passion for bees, love of local organic products, and an uncanny ability to spot trends in flavor. From publisher to beekeeper to whiskey distiller, Marin opened her own distillery on her farm in Long Eddy in 2010, which has now grown into the brand it is today—with award-winning spirts and a tasting room and retail store in Callicoon. This spring they will debut limited edition spirits such as Crimson Amaro and Bonfire Rye.

After achieving success in the corporate world, Marin wanted to make a difference by following her passions. She started beekeeping as a hobby and now her raw wildflower honey is featured in her carefully crafted NY Honey Rye Whiskey, Pollinator Vodka and Pollinator Gin. She believes in respecting and supporting her hive, and is a strong supporter of environmental legislation focused on saving the bees and organizations that empower women.


Photograph by Lawrence Braun

Kirsten Harlow Foster

Co-Founder of Foster Supply Hospitality

4053 NY-52, Youngsville, NY 12791

Kirsten Harlow Foster is a co-founder, along with her husband and partner Sims Foster, of Foster Supply Hospitality, which operates six hotels and six restaurants in New York’s Catskill Mountains, with additional projects in development in the region. These hotels and restaurants have quickly helped define the renaissance of the Catskill area.

Prior to launching Foster Supply Hospitality with the opening of the Arnold House in 2014, Harlow Foster spent 10 years working as a Senior Policy Advisor at The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. With a Masters Degree in Economics and International Policy, Kirsten’s illustrious career has also taken her to developing countries to assist in setting up small, rural micro-lending programs, to advising foreign officials on economics and health policy, and to serve as an advisor to the US Treasury Department.

Throughout her career, she has always been dedicated to making a difference and ensuring her work has a meaningful impact on its community, and does so through her work with A Single Bite, as Vice President of WJFF Radio Catskill, and as Vice President of the Foundation Board of Sullivan County Community College, SUNY Sullivan.



Denise Lombardi

Founder and President of the Hurleyville General Store

238 Main St, Hurleyville, NY 12747

As Founder and President of the Hurleyville General Store, a business that focuses on improving economic opportunities for people with disabilities, Lombardi has been a fierce advocate for people with disabilities. The Hurleyville General Store is a recipient of the New York State Senate Empire Award in recognition of outstanding contributions and dedication to the growth, prosperity and betterment of the community and New York State.

She currently serves as Treasurer of the National Council on Severe Autism, a stakeholder advisor on multiple autism related councils including SPARK for Autism Community Advisory Council and Participant Access Committee, and Columbia University Center of Excellence in ELSI Research (PNB Genetics). She formerly served as Finance Chair of the NYS Association for Behavior Analysis as well as a member of the NYS OPWDD Request for Proposals Review Committee, and as a member of the Long Island Family Support Services Advisory Council. Prior to founding the store, Lombardi worked as a certified public accountant.



Lisa Lyons

Owner of Morgan Outdoors

234 Main Street, Hurleyville, NY

Lisa Lyons is the owner of Morgan Outdoors, a specialty outdoor store serving the Catskills since 2005. Located on Livingston Manor’s Main Street for 17 years, Lyons is moving Morgan Outdoors to 234 Main Street, Hurleyville, NY, with an April re-opening planned. She is the creator of events, exhibitions, and programs that connect people of all ages and abilities to the natural world and a sense of wonder. The four-season business provides footwear, clothing, and gear for easy walks, hikes, and snowshoe outings with gentle guidance on how to experience all of it safely and with an awareness of our impact on the outdoor spaces we play in.

Lyons currently serves on the Catskill Advisory Group, a state-appointed panel that is developing a strategic framework to tackle the challenges and opportunities of increased visitation to the Catskill Park. She is a long-time volunteer with the local chapter of Sullivan Renaissance and serves on the board of the Catskill Mountain Club. Her other volunteer work has included: caring for local trails by recruiting volunteers and leading trail maintenance crews; serving on the boards of local organizations including the Sullivan County Visitor’s Association and WJFF public radio. Previously, Lisa served as the Director of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center after 12 years working in NYC government where she became the first female director of an NYC DOT division.


Cat Wilson

Co-Owner of Willow & Post and Forage & Gather

81 Main St, Mountaindale, NY 12763

Wilson is the co-owner of Willow & Post and Forage & Gather in Mountaindale, New York which she runs with her mother-in-law, Lisa Bartolomeo (an incredible woman in her own right). Wilson grew up in the male-dominated service and entertainment industries and hopes to create a safer space than what she was used to for anyone that walks in the door or applies for a job.

Her career trajectory has been a sporadic one. From line cook to farmer, yoga teacher, restaurant manager, musician, and now a small business owner.

Entrepreneurship wasn’t so much a dream as a leap after years of working for other people and feeling like she was treading water. She has always loved working with food and farms and strives to offer as much locally-sourced and sustainable fare on her menu as part of her mission of connecting her community with healthy and affordable food.



Kara McElroy

Owner of Buck Brook Alpacas

12 Bestenheider Rd, Roscoe, NY 12776

Kara McElroy was born and raised in Sullivan County. She is a graduate of Delaware Valley Central School and continued her education at The State University of Oneonta, and then went on to receive her masters at Brockport State University.

In 2013, Kara developed a desire to own and raise alpacas. After much research and careful consideration, she, and her husband Justin McElroy, teamed up with their children to open a family owned and operated alpaca farm off of Buck Brook Road, which is now widely known as Buck Brook Alpacas.

She and her husband reside in Hortonville where they are very busy raising their two teenage children.


Susan Mendoza

Founder and Co-Owner The Chi Hive Inc. Gym + Wellness Space

22 Main St, Narrowsburg, NY 12764

An Entrepreneur and Ayurvedic Wellness Coach, Mendoza has been teaching and practicing yoga and mindfulness for 20+ years and has a professional background in movement, voiceover, film and theater.

Mendoza is passionate about building strong and healthy relationships, being an active community member, and supporting people on their journey into self-inquiry in order to live better in their bodies mentally, physically, emotionally and sexually.

Some of Mendoza’s training includes Yoga 12 Step Recovery for those living with and affected by addiction and trauma recovery; Marma therapeutic technique; Yoga Tune Up; Trauma Sensitive Yoga Training with David Emmerson and LGBTQ(i) competency training.

She was born on the hearty Island of Newfoundland, Canada and lives in Narrowsburg with her cherished family who are her lights and loves. Included in their family are their beloved animals; 3 cats (Pepper, Popcorn and Kernel), 2 dogs, (Otto, Paco), and Chickens, 2 sheep, 1 ram and 3 goats (who all have names).


Misty Hackworth

Co-owner of The Junction

60 Stewart Ave, Roscoe, NY 12776

Hackworth is an owner at The Junction alongside her husband, Aaron. She was born and raised in Texas and then moved to Brooklyn, where she lived for 13 years. Here she was employed by Brooklyn Brewery for 9 years, working first-hand with a countless number of bars and restaurants in the area.

Misty and Aaron met in Brooklyn and then started visiting upstate NY on the weekends. This is where her love for fly fishing began, leading them to eventually purchase a home in Roscoe (better known as Trout Town.)

Two years later, the decision was made to live in Roscoe full time. The timing was right, and they found a space to open their own bar and restaurant right in the center of Roscoe. The Junction has been open since May of 2021, keeping them very busy. They have developed such a special and amazing clientele, forming life-long friendships along the way.


Kendra Payne

Owner of The Herbal Scoop

43 Lower Main St., Callicoon, NY 12723

Kendra Payne is an Herbalist, Yoga Teacher, Ayurvedic Coach, and lover of all things natural. In 2019 she opened The Herbal Scoop to the Sullivan Catskills community and beyond, hoping to inspire people to eat more plants and drink more leaves. Through her shop in Callicoon, she offers curated teas, herbs, remedies, and much more.

In 2012, she traveled to India to obtain her yoga certification, which led her into the practice of Ayurveda. As she expanded on her Ayurvedic knowledge, she was again called to the practice of herbs, which eventually led her to get a formal herbal education in 2016 from the Herbal Academy. She has worked in the wellness industry as an herbalist, yoga teacher, health coach, juice cleanse concierge, meditation teacher, and manager for 12+ years.



Alessandra Iavarone

Owner, The Velvet Maple Lifestyle Shoppe

22 Main St, Narrowsburg, NY 12764

Alessandra runs The Velvet Maple Lifestyle Shoppe and Interior Design studio based in Narrowsburg, NY along with its local Airbnb investment homes around Sullivan County. She says it has been a privilege to continuously highlight strong innovative female designers of all races, from all economic diverse backgrounds, in the fashion, accessories and home collection since first opening The Velvet Maple doors 7 years ago. Recently during the pandemic Alessandra opened another location in Westchester County that is run by her fabulous mother Rita, the queen bee of her international style world. This coming year Alessandra is expanding her foot print in Sullivan County with a new design and build division that also includes all female partners! More to come in 2022 follow @thevelvetmaple.

Karen Fisher
Anne Dubrovsky

Karen Fisher and Anne Dubrovsky

FisherMears Associates, LLC

1830 NY-52, Liberty, NY 12754

FisherMears Associates, LLC is a marketing communications firm in Liberty, New York with 23 years of experience developing high-end, award-winning campaigns. The company is known for creating visually compelling materials that position benefits and land a brand directly in customers’ hearts and minds to move them to action.

Karen Fisher and Anne Dubrovsky lead the company. Karen’s skills at concept development and copywriting are the perfect complement to Anne’s graphic design talent. Together they emphasize a team approach, have high professional standards, and enjoy a record of results-driven marketing communications programs for companies in tourism, financial services, healthcare, non-profit, and high-end real estate.

They are the recipients of awards from Medical Marketing & Media and The New York Governor’s Tourism Conference. Both the American Graphics Design Guild and the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing have repeatedly honored the company for excellence in graphic design and communications.

Lauren Seikaly

President of WLMC Group

Jeffersonville, NY

Lauren Seikaly is President of WLMC Group, soon to be renamed Heartwood, a company she runs with her husband Michael Huber that aims to restore economic vitality to Jeffersonville, NY. After a stage 2 cancer diagnosis and a year of treatment, Seikaly decided to shift her focus from the NYC theater world that she had been working in for 15 years, to this small country town that she had grown to know and love through weekends spent here since 2002.

Since 2017, she has restored three buildings on Main Street and opened Tavern on Main, Winkelried Biergarten, 52 & Vine Wine & Spirits, The Vintage House, Jeffersonville Bake Shop, and Lulu’s Social Club. With the recent purchase of the old Eddie’s Market building, Seikaly is looking to create a stomping ground for the local artist community by turning the main hall into a gallery and creating affordable studio space throughout the main floor. The second floor will offer affordable office space available for rent on an hourly, weekly, or monthly basis.

Seikaly splits her time between Sullivan County and New York City where her two teenage daughters attend public NYC schools and her bulldog Duncan chases squirrels.

Patti Greco Sunshine

Owner of The Funky Hippy Chic Boutique

679 Resorts World Dr, Monticello, NY 12701

Patti Greco Sunshine is a home-grown entrepreneur! A well accomplished singer/entertainer who got her start in the best place on earth, The Catskill Mountains! Her talent took her around the globe, but her heart was always here. She came back home, got her Real Estate License, Married Jonathan Sunshine and together they built The Sunshine Group Real Estate Corp, and with her love of worldly fashion, The Funky Hippy Chic Boutique!


Marilyn Lusker
Women’s staff: Jeanne McGrath, Theresa Miller, Marilyn Lusker, Anne Miller, Tania Vanegas
Photo by Fernando Padilla

Marilyn Lusker

The Rose Cottage in De Bruce

Although I moved permanently to De Bruce after Ron, my husband died, and joined my brother, Bill, in developing the farm and cottages, I was seven when I first came here with my parents, Walter and Rose, who bought the historic fishermen’s retreat, the De Bruce Club Inn. We stayed at Nangles, which Ron and I later bought and modernized in the 80’s running the De Bruce Country Inn with its Drawing Room gallery showing SoHo and local artists, until I sold it in 2016.

I married Ron after returning from Europe, teaching and studying music, art and languages. We lived between our SoHo loft and the Inn.

Our Lusker Design group also took on renovating the “Left Bank” building in Liberty, and I initiated the gallery with a retrospective of Ron’s work. When Covid closed us down, a section of the SoHo collection was moved to our small Inn, The Rose Cottage in De Bruce, where it enhances the walls, with work from local artists.

Now, with the help of Bill, and staff of women, we will open the Davidson’s General Store in De Bruce (est. 1923).


Jodie Dawson and Kristine Petrik

Co-Founders of Java Love Coffee Roasting Co.

1577 NY-17B, White Lake, NY 12786

Java Love Coffee Roasting Co., is a woman-owned, artisan coffee roasting company created out of a personal mission and passion for community connection and quality coffee done right.

Committed to sustainably-sourced coffee beans produced with respect for the environment and the farmers, Java Love coffee is handcrafted and roasted with heart in small batches highlighting and maintaining the quality and character of each bean.

From their beginnings in Bethel, Jodie and Kristine have grown the company to now have multiple locations and a robust wholesale operation, so your favorite restaurants and shops carry their delicious roasts.

From 2011 to the present, Java Love was created and continues to be their passion and soul. Their mission and values of love, transparency, growth, and community are apparent in everything they do.

Danielle Gaebel
Jennifer Bitetto

Danielle Gaebel and Jennifer Bitetto

Superfine Social

Danielle and Jennifer are multi-passionate entrepreneurs with 40 years of marketing and sales experience. Through their company, Superfine Social, they offer social media and digital marketing help for small business owners. They focus on workable solutions and a high-touch, personalized approach that will make hitting your marketing goals a legit breeze.

Danielle is a social media coach, marketing strategist, and champion cheerleader with 25 years of experience working with local small businesses – everything from retail stores to restaurants – and wears many hats.

Danielle’s wife and business partner, Jennifer, is a mom, small business owner, social media coach, ads strategist and web developer, and is known as a systems and solutions powerhouse, making businesses run efficiently and effectively.


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