Columbia County Youth Bureau   

  "Every Child, Every Day"

Youth Leadership Awards

The Louis A. Pierro and the Richard F. Tracy Awards are given to a Columbia County high school senior (Pierro) and a 7th/8th grade student (Tracy) who demonstrate strong leadership and community service skills. Students are nominated through their school administrators and guidance counselors. TheLouis A. Pierro award winner is also presented with a $1,000 scholarship.

High School Senior recipient of the Louis A. Pierro Award, Shea Mudge


Germantown High School senior Shea Mudge and Chatham eighth grader Isla Stack were honored with the Louis A. Pierro and Richard F. Tracy Leadership awards respectively at the annual Columbia County Youth Bureau Leadership Awards Banquet.

The banquet was held Thursday, May 23, at the Hudson Elks Club, after several years of a COVID-induced hiatus. Columbia County Youth Bureau Executive Director Dan Grandinetti served as master of ceremonies.

Twenty students from the six county school districts were nominated for the leadership awards. They were: Middle schoolers Hudson Harrington and Emma Miller (Taconic Hills); Isla Stack (Chatham); Enzo Turner and Naveah Benschop (Hudson); Madelynn Dodge and Abigail Lent (Germantown); Natalie Hickey and Sophie Shultis (Ichabod Crane).

High schooler seniors Neil Howard III and Dacia Nunez (Taconic Hills); Jenna Palubeckis and Isabella Wiseman (Chatham); Magdalena Ramos and Katharine Antonelli (Hudson); Shea Mudge and Anna Kukon (Germantown); Tallulah Powers (New Lebanon); Isabella Scott and Mark Costanzo (Ichabod Crane).

The evening’s guest speaker was Caitie Hilliard Hilverman of The Spark, Hudson. Approximately 130 were in attendance, including Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell (Stockport), and town supervisors Donal Collins (Chatham), Brenda Adams (Canaan), Abdus Miah (Hudson 2nd Ward), Claire Cousin (Hudson 1st Ward), Michael Chameides (Hudson 3rd Ward), and Kathy Eldridge (Greenport). County Sheriff’s Department Undersheriff Jacqueline Salvatore and County Clerk Holly Tanner also attended.

Louis A. Pierro is credited with the formation of Hudson’s Oakdale Lake, and Richard F. Tracy supervised lake activities from 1972 to 2004. Director Grandinetti spoke to the large impact both men had on his life, as well as their dedication and service to area youth. The high school Leadership Award is named for Pierro, and the newly instituted middle school award has been named for Tracy.

The Leadership Award Banquet was begun under the direction of Youth Bureau Director Matt Murell (1986-2000), continued under Director Jessica Nabozny (2001-2023), and was resumed by Director Grandinetti, who stepped into the position earlier this year. Pat Malloy (1980-1985) served as the county’s first Youth Bureau director.

Director Grandinetti thanked The Spark of Hudson, Arica’s Insurance, and county Department of Social Services Commissioner Bob Gibson for sponsoring the evening’s event.

Others instrumental in contributing to the successful evening were the Elks Club of Hudson, which donated the use of the venue, and Good Eats Catering. The Rev. Kim Singletary delivered the benediction.

Dick Tracy with 8th Grade recipient Isla Stack of Chatham


Louis A. Pierro was dedicated to providing youth with an opportunity to excel, beginning with his work for the National Youth Administration in the 1930’s, and throughout his 44-year career – including federal, state, and local government service. He retired in 1976 and continued this work by volunteering to work with and lead several community youth programs and organizations.

Mr. Pierro graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Hudson and attended Fordham University and Russel Sage College. He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict and retired as a captain in the US Army with more than 23 years of military service. A former area director of the National Youth Administration, his involvement in youth programming continued upon his return from service after WWII.  Pierro served the city of Hudson as Executive Director of the Department of Youth and the Hudson Youth Bureau for almost 12 years. During that time, he was credited with the development of the Oakdale Lake area, many playgrounds, learn to swim programs, swim meats and skating championships for the Northeast and Middle Atlantic Districts. In 1958 he was appointed Field Representative for the Youth Commission. In 1961, Pierro was appointed executive assistant to the director of the division. In 1963, he took a position as the Confidential Assistant to the then governor, Nelson Rockefeller. In 1966, he returned to the Division for Youth as Deputy Director in charge of the Development and Delinquency Prevention Program. In 1973 he was appointed as a Commissioner on the State Board of Parole.

Throughout his years in youth programs, Mr. Pierro had been the recipient of several awards and commendations. Among them, the New York State recreation and Park Society presented him with the Distinguished service Award and their Professional accomplishment Award. He received the NYS

Elks Association Meritorious Achievement Award for his promotion of youth activities, and he received the Outstanding Citizen’s award of the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Louis A. Pierro

He was President of the Columbia County School Boards Association, president of the Hudson Board of Education, President of the NYS Recreation and Park Society, among other leadership roles and memberships in civic and community organizations. Mr. Pierro received many awards and citations of merit in connection with his interest on behalf of young people, and, throughout his career, he was

identified with numerous activities in the fields of recreation, sports, education and community projects. He was instrumental in the formation of the Columbia County Youth Bureau and served on its board of directors until his death.

After all his travels and experiences, however, nothing was as dear to Lou Pierro as the youth of his beloved Hudson. He believed that all youth should be given support and equal opportunities. He believed strongly that we should all remember where we came from and should give back to our community in any way we can. He lived his beliefs and served as a mentor and role model to many in his community.

Richard F. Tracy with Louis A. Pierro's children, Lou and Michelle, and Youth Bureau Director, Dan Grandinetti


Richard F. Tracy is a Hudson native who has spent his life caring and giving back to the community that helped raise him. After graduating from Hudson High School in 1965, Dick went on to attend Texas A&M, graduating in 1971, and played football there. 

He is a life member of the Greenport Rescue Squad serving as a Captain, Lieutenant, and President of the organization. He founded the Columbia County Dive and Rescue Team and is a certified rescue diver. He is a has been a member of the Greenport Fire Department and CH Evans Hook and Ladder for over 50 years and is a 20 year member of the Disaster Action Team of the American Red Cross.

Dick served as Hudson City Youth Director from 1972 to 2004, the STOP DWI Coordinator from 1988-1989 and as the Mayor of the City of Hudson from 2006 through 2007.

In addition to his athletic prowess on the football field (he also played for the Twin County Vikings football program) he competed in the 13th Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York on the USA Bobsled Team.

Dick enjoys spending time with his family: daughters Maggie, Kathy and her husband, Mike, grandsons Elliott, Avery, and Charlie; his partner of 30 years, Kathy Eldridge and her sons, Mason and Albert.


Louis A. Pierro Senior Award

Isabella Wiseman, Chatham

Jenna Palubeckis, Chatham

Anna Kukon, Germantown

Shea Mudge, Germantown

Katharine Antonelli, Hudson

Magdalena Ramos, Hudson

Tallulah Powers, New Lebanon

Mark Costanzo, Ichabod Crane

Isabella Scott, Ichabod Crane

Neil Howard, III, Taconic Hills

Dacia Nunez, Taconic Hills

Richard F. Tracy 7th/8th Grade

Isla Stack, Chatham

Madelyn Dodge, Germantown

Abigail Lent, Germantown

Naveah Benschop, Hudson

Enzo Turner, Hudson

Sophie Shultis, Ichabod Crane

Natalie Hickey, Ichabod Crane

Hudson Harrington, Taconic Hills

Emma Miller, Taconic Hills

Honored Guests

Columbia County Board of Supervisors

Columbia County Youth Advisory Board

Albert Wenger & Susan Danziger, The Spark of Hudson

Arica Cooper, Arica Insurance (Sponsor)

Bob Gibson, Commissioner, DSS

Guest Speakers & Presenters
Catie Hilverman, The Spark of Hudson (Sponsor)
Lou Pierro
Michelle Pierro

Richard (Dick) Tracy

Dinner provided by Tim & Christine Grossman

Sponsored by The Spark of Hudson and DSS
Desserts sponsored by Arica Insurance