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Historic Hudson Valley Launches Women's History Initiative

Caryl and Bill Plunkett.
Caryl and Bill Plunkett. Photo Credit: Submitted

POCANTICO HILLS, N.Y. -- Historic Hudson Valley (HHV), a non-profit education organization based in Pocantico Hills, is launching a women’s history institute honoring the women who shaped the culture and history of the area.

The new initiative grows out of a desire to better serve the women and girls who comprise well over 50 percent of the HHV audience. The goal is to reach them in a more powerful way, infusing a deeper sensitivity into existing programs as well as profiling women as historical figures and protagonists in the stories HHV tells.

According to President Waddell Stillman, this is a continuation of HHV's institutional efforts to examine history in a comprehensive way and represent it honestly through the lives of real people.

HHV plans to look to social history, letters and journals, folklore, and other non-traditional tools to paint rich portraits of the women of the past who left no formal record.

To jumpstart the fundraising, the organization is celebrating the spirit of three women who inspired and supported HHV over the years and made exceptional contributions along the way.

The event, which honors Caryl Plunkett, Happy Rockefeller, and Molly Schaefer, is being held Saturday, June 10 at the Playhouse at Kykuit.

Each woman, now deceased, gave an unwavering commitment to HHV’s work, said Stillman. Molly Schaefer, as Vice Chair of HHV’s Board of Trustees, played a characteristically outsized role over nearly two decades as did Happy Rockefeller, who also served on the Board of Trustees and was a founder of HHV’s Pocantico Society.

Caryl Plunkett, whose time and talents were a boon to numerous organizations in and around her hometown of Tarrytown, also left a lasting impact on HHV and the Hudson Valley, he explained.

"Caryl and [her husband] Bill were a formidable team," he said. "Whether raising their six kids in Tarrytown, running the law office of Plunkett & Jaffe, guiding a political campaign, or chairing a fundraiser, their commitment to their family and community was unmatched.

"Over the years, Historic Hudson Valley was fortunate to benefit from Caryl's wisdom, keen judgment, and untiring friendship and support."

A steering committee from varying backgrounds from within HHV and beyond will be assembled to shape the new institute’s mission, content, and programs. It is envisioned that this research will be used to develop new programs and curriculum for historic site tours, school programs, and events, as well as inform HHV’s growing universally available digital content

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