Dr. Melissa Everett completed her thesis in January of 2006, on "Social Capital in Sustainable Community Development: Three Cases in the Protected Catskill Watershed of New York." Her research focuses on dimensions of social relationships that are found in successful community and economic development processes that achieve environmentally sustainable outcomes - trust, shared norms, exchange relationships - and the organizational leadership processes that promote these success factors. A counselor, educator, trainer, and author of three books, she applies these principles as Executive Director of Sustainable Hudson Valley.
Sustainable Hudson Valley's mission is to build a creative economy dedicated to the renewal of community and environment. In three years as SHV's senior staff, Dr. Everett has developed programs to educate local government and business leaders on sustainability, helped to create an economic plan based on local self-reliance for ten towns and villages, coauthored a directory of green building products and materials for the construction industry, and helped the region begin to frame its response to climate change by convening a Municipal Leaders' Summit on Climate Protection. She chairs two county committees in Ulster County, New York: one on climate change and the other on green technology. Sustainable Hudson Valley is housed at Tech City, the former IBM campus, which is now developing plans for a green renovation and sustainable industrial development.
Sustainable Hudson Valley's work reflects the principles of social capital uncovered in Dr. Everett's research, with its focus on bringing people together to uncover unexpected solutions, supporting self-organizating systems, and creating organizational cultures of trust and authenticity.