Board of Directors
Nicholas Ascienzo, Founder
An educator for 42 years in the Red Hook Schools in Northern Dutchess County, NY Nick was involved on many levels of the educational spectrum. Teaching mathematics to 7th and 8th graders in his early years in the profession, Nick was a member of the High School staff over the last 35 years of his career. His many endeavors included coaching a variety of sports with a love of softball, maintaining positions of leadership within the Red Hook Faculty Association, and contributing to a range of school district committees, advancing student outcomes and district policy. He embraced the challenges of motivating students of all abilities and especially so in his Advanced Placement Calculus and International Baccalaureate classes. Nick enhanced Red Hook’s emphasis on inclusion and excellence while interacting with exceptional colleagues, staff, and families during his time in the district from 1974 to 2016.
Inspired by a number of senior students in the early part of this decade Nick formed the AFF while still teaching - a vision enhanced by his long standing role in the RH Community, individuals who shared in his professional life, and his parents whose elder needs assisted in shaping one of AFF’s mission goals. Since delivering his last math lesson in 2016, Nick has cultivated additional professional relationships in the Red Hook Community, as well as with AFF’s ambassadors, an increasing group of RH graduates living throughout the country. His continued fascination with exploration and our country’s history have allowed for those reads and trips that he embraces while keeping up with his 101 year old father and navigating AFF’s direction.
Ali Fraenkel (RHHS ‘11)- Founding Director
Ali recognizes that it has taken the full cooperation and interplay of her studies in philanthropic innovations, work in social entrepreneurship, personal civic engagement, and daily expression as a changemaker to make her participation in the Foundation’s creation possible.
More specifically, Ali’s journey in grantmaking started in 2012 as a student in a year-long experiential philanthropy course at Northeastern University and then continued as a 4-year exploration into the shifts and innovations in philanthropy, that when done in a different way, could be more democratic and accessible for any human to partake in and benefit from. This led Ali to a number of transformative experiences including creating the first-ever massive open online course around effective charitable giving with thousands of participants around the world, working for Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation to ensure more young people had access to understanding the intricacies and experiences of the grantmaking process, and serving on the youth board of Positive Tracks to accelerate “philanthletic” pathways for young changemakers to give back through community-building, movement-inspired philanthropy. Community, advocacy, innovative practices, and a visionary spirit are at the center of everything Ali loves being involved with.
Today you can find Ali residing in the Washington D.C. area and spending a quarter of the year in between the Hudson Valley area and in Kosovo with her family-in-law. In many expressions, Ali is a creator who is committed to her role as a member and co-leader of various communities spanning changemaking, social innovation in higher education, spirituality, youth leadership, and collective well-being. She works as a facilitator of transformative leadership pathways for Ashoka U’s community of higher education innovators, as a community consultant for several personal projects, and as a budding abstract watercolor artist. Each day is an opportunity for Ali to commit to the practices that bring her work, her creativity, and her spirit to life.
Sophie Laing (RHHS ‘12)- Founding Director
At the community level is where so many important decisions, change, and support happens. Sophie grateful to be part of the Foundation and always looks forward to working as part of the AFF to help foster stronger bonds of support and connectivity within our communities. One of Sophie’s favorite parts of being on the Foundation’s Board is getting the opportunity to connect or reconnect with fellow RHHS graduates who are now spread out over the country (and the globe!) doing amazing work.
Sophie is currently a law student at Yale Law School, where she helps co-direct a Medical-Legal Partnership at a Yale New Haven Hospital Free Clinic and also serves as a board member for the Yale Health Law and Policy Society.
Brittany Mosher (RHHS ‘05)- Director, Former AFF Ambassador
Brittany is second-generation Red Hook native whose father was also taught by Mr. A. She grew up on a family farm, unearthing a passion for nature, food, and animals that continues to fuel her today.
Brittany served as an inaugural Ascienzo Family Foundation Ambassador, and advocated on behalf of an animal therapy organization she worked with in Colorado. Brittany joined the Foundation as a Director in 2018 and continues to be inspired by the initiatives that she gets to be a part of through AFF.
Brittany now lives in Burlington, Vermont and is an Assistant Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. She spends her work days thinking creatively about connecting science with young people and on developing innovative conservation solutions.
Nick Fiorellini (Bard College ‘20): Nick Fiorellini is a senior at Bard College, where he studies American Studies and Literature. Nick joined the Ascienzo Family Foundation two years ago, when he was a sophomore, and is excited for another year of giving. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing, and enjoying all the nature that the Hudson Valley has to offer.