The most dedicated, most creative and most influential people in Ridgefield
Here and at a ceremony on November 10, we celebrate 25 of the most creative, dynamic, generous, and entrepreneurial individuals who make Ridgefield such a wonderful place to call home.
Amy Pal rode into the Ridgefield business community by introducing JoyRide cycling studio, then opening Whip Salon, Ridgefield’s first blow dry bar. She uses her marketing savvy and business success to give back, most notably with her fun, hip fundraising and fashion parties at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
Roger Knick turned an old driving range into the Golf Performance Center, a destination for serious golfers looking to train their way to greatness. In addition to giving lectures in the field of sports performance development through the GPC (Giving Young People a Chance) Foundation, Knick is writing a book, The Best Golfer Ever Built.
Allison Stockel is executive director of the Ridgefield Playhouse, which she has built from a small-town auditorium into a regional powerhouse, attracting top talent to put on some 200 live performances a year. Stockel is also a triathlete, a founding member of the Ridgefield Film Commission, and the 2017 winner of Rotary’s Citizen of the Year. She led an initiative called Arts for Everyone that focuses on making the arts accessible to low-income families.
Jacqui Dowd and her husband Sean Dowd started Ridgefield Bicycle Co. in 2011. Subsequently Jacqui helped found and now is the charmismatic leader of the Ridgefield Bicycle Sport Club, with 400 members and a mission of education, safety, and fun, and is now one of the largest organized cycling clubs in the country.
Katie Diamond and Daniel C. Levine co-founded A Contemporary Theater, a sparkling space that opened earlier this year in the former auditorium of Schlumberger and has been a big attraction to town. These two talented Broadway stars led the effort to create this state-of-the-art performance space to bring Broadway-caliber performances to Ridgefield—first with Mamma Mia!, currently with Evita.
Valerie Jensen is the founder and head of the Prospector Theater. As past president of SPHERE, a group whose mission is to better the lives of adults with disabilities, she has taken that mission and fine-tuned it at the Prospector, whose mission is to employ adults with disabilities. The Prospector employs more than 100 adults with disabilities and has provided Ridgefield with one of the nation’s most spectacular movie theaters.
Mary Ellen Loncto was chief of oncology nursing at Norwalk Hospital, which bestowed on her its Nightingale Award. Loncto has run ten marathons, including a first-in-age group finish at Marine Corps Marathon in 2014. She helped greatly expand the Ridgefield Thrift Shop and oversaw the distribution of more than $250,000 to local organizations earlier this year.
Barbara Manners has been a member of the Board of Selectmen and a major supporter of the arts in Ridgefield for more than two decades. For 18 years she has helped organize Concert Happenings in Ridgefield Parks (CHIRP), bringing live outdoor music performances to Ballard Park—connecting the community one to two times a week throughout the summer.
Larry Bossidy has distinguished himself in the international business community as a top-level executive at GE and as CEO of Allied Signal and Honeywell and most recently as an author and regular commentator on CNBC. Having nine children and numerous grandchildren rise through Ridgefield schools and athletic fields, he and his wife Nancy Bossidy have provided major support to many groups in town, mostly notably Tiger Hollow, the Ridgefield Library, and the Boys & Girls Club.
Roy Colsey led the Ridgefield High School boys lacrosse team to a state championship this year, defeating the four-time defending champion Darien High School in a nailbiter. An all-American from Syracuse University, Colsey went on to play professional lacrosse. Colsey represents the overwhelming greatness of the RHS athletic program, which was a dominant force in Connecticut athletics this past year.
John Roche was a career Ridgefield police officer, making his way through the ranks before being named chief, graduating from the FBI National Academy and earning officer of the year in 1983. A beloved member of the Ridgefield community, he was a baseball coach, schout master, parishioner of St. Mary Church, and a member of Rotary. Chief Roche passed away in September leaving behind a town and a police force that is stronger, safer, and more connected to the community that when he joined it.
Lori Berisford is president of SPHERE, an organizations that helps disabled adults have more fulfilling lives. But her support of so many non-profits in this area is what makes her a standout citizen, winning the Spirit of Dr. King Service Award last year. Some of the organizations she profoundly affects include Ability Beyond, Sunrise Cottage, Founders Hall, the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury, RVNA, the Ridgefield Playhouse, and Kids in Crisis.
Ed Mcgill transformed BMW of Ridgefield from a tired dealership to a gorgeous space and booming business, becoming a community booster along the way—sponsoring events, hosting organizations, providing weekend car giveaways. In addition, he and wife Gaetana have been active supporters of Keeler Tavern, to whom they donated a historic house from the property they purchased when moving to Ridgefield.
Wayne Addessi is a longtime business owner, whose eponymously named jewelry store is a beacon of Main Street. Addessi has used his role as a business leader to promote the town through his work with the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce and most recently as the founder and driving force behind InRidgefield—a marketing initiative whose central website is a reflection of all that is happening in this culturally robust town.
Anita Donofrio and her husband Nick Donofrio bring passion, talent, and commitment to their work in Ridgefield. Having been significant supporters of the Ridgefield Library, earning the Hope Swenson Award in 2015, Anita has been a driving force behind the success of ROAR (Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue) and has also become a national force to control gun violence.
Tucker West filled Ridgefield with Olympic spirit earlier this. As a Boy Scout, Tucker learned about the luge during a US Olympic event on Governor Street. His dad, entrepreneur Brett West, subsequently built a full-scale, ice-making luge run in the family back yard on West Mountain Road. Tucker competed in his first Olympics in 2014—as the youngest ever US Olympic luge competitor—and returned earlier this year.
Theresa Santoro is president and CEO of Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, which under her tenure has exploded: expanding its coverage to more than 25 towns and its services from simply visiting nurses: it now offers rehabilitation and physical therapy, geriatric care management, disease management, and most recently home hospice care. She also led the migration of RVNA into its new state-of-the-art facility on Governor Street.
Alex Fischetti is very much a man about town. An employee of the Ridgefield Playhouse, Fischetti is the recent author of the Lonesome Boy and the Blond-Haired Angel, describing a friendship that has helped him cope with Aspergber syndrome, which he was diagnosed with at a young age. Now, Alex can be seen attending or helping out at nearly every cultural function in town, always quick with a hello and his signature bright smile.
Liz Goldstone and husband Steven, former CEO of RJR Nabisco, moved to Ridgefield in 1991. In addition to helping create Founders Hall, Liz has given time and energy to Danbury Hospital, and the Lounsbury House. Together the Goldstones and their family foundation have given both time and treasure to many Ridgefield organizations.
Paul McNamara was the chairman of Fairfield County Bank since 1987 and a director there since 1986, before his retirement earlier this year. Under his leadership, Ridgefield Bank blossomed into what is now Fairfield County Bank, expanding from two brances to 17 branches and from less than $100 million in assets to $1.5 billion. Following his lead, the bank put more than $1 million in donations to the community. So many homes and businesses owe their success and ownership to loans triggered by McNamara. He and wife Dewey have been active in supporting the Ridgefield VNA, Danbury Hospital, Ridgefield Library, the Boys & Girls Club, and more.
Mary Rindfleisch was for many years the assistant director of the Ridgefield Library, but her title did not reflect the massive imprint she left on the institution, having infused her deep love of learning, commitment to community, and creative thinking over her 20 years there. Though Rindfleisch died suddenly this year, so many lasting legacies of her work continue to make this library and this town what they are today.
Lane Murdock is a student at Ridgefield High School who represents the power of our youth in the country today. Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, this year, Murdock led what ultimately became a national movement: encouraging students to walk out of school on a designated day to protest gun violence in America.
Hildegard Grob is executive director of Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center. Under her tenure, she has helped expand this institution from a 300-year-old building offering colonial-themed tours to a sprawling history center and destination, providing a vivid look at American history by exploring the journey of this property from a residence, post office, and inn, to what it has become. Keeler’s camps and other programs for youth are infusing learning and history into the next generation.
Megan Searfoss owns and operates the men’s and women’s apparel shop Everywear on Main as well as the Ridgefield Running Co. A multi-time Ironman and certified coach, Searfoss has gotten Ridgefield in shape, by offering run-training programs and by organizing the Ridgefield Half Marathon and the now-national Run Like a Mother 5k Mother’s Day race.
Picking the 25
Don’t see someone who deserves to be here? Post your ideas for future nominees at ridgefield25.org.
We opened the nomination process this summer and received the names of more than 100 people, making the selection of these 25 a true challenge, helped only by the fact that we will organize this program every year. A deserved person who does not make the list this year can be nominated now for the 2019 Ridgefield 25 Reception and Ceremony.
This year we hold the event at BMW of Ridgefield, Saturday, November 10, 6 pm. Featuring drinks, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and a special Q&A with Larry Bossidy, it is open to the public. Tickets ($55) are available click here.