Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Centre taps Peter Criswell as govt director

Peter Criswell (image by Dion Ogust)

The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center has hired a new govt director. Peter Criswell will shortly be getting up the mantle of longtime main Jeff Rindler, who programs to step down within just the following few months in order to devote far more time to an elderly parent’s well being wants. “I’m not in the chair nonetheless,” claims Criswell. “I’ll be heading by a transition time period with the past executive director.”

Criswell is also a to start with-phrase county legislator from Kingston. He serves as a member of the City of Kingston’s Arts Fee, in which he’s performing on drafting an arts and tradition master plan. He has finished curriculum progress at the Omega Institute, and is an active participant at the Dharmakaya Middle for Wellbeing in Cragsmoor, where by he has also been govt director for the past calendar year and a half. He sings tenor in the regional LGBTQ refrain, Key of Q, and he has performed the component of Rip Van Winkle in the once-a-year Sinterklaas parade.

Indigenous to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Criswell to start with came to reside in the Hudson Valley in the late 1980s, when he was finding out theater and anthropology at Bard School, pursuing a fascination with “ritual theater.” He credits his liberal-arts instruction at Bard with delivering him a toolbox for “problem-fixing and figuring out how to make matters come about.”

Later on, he delved deeper into the “sacred art” of clowning at the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Clown Higher education, and afterwards still structured excursions that despatched pupils to perform commedia dell’ arte demonstrates at Bosnian refugee camps. Criswell’s résumé is laced with threads of desire that really do not automatically appear related at first, but go on to interweave into a vocational tapestry that helps make excellent feeling seen as a complete.

His graduate operate – at Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania and Manhattanville Faculty – has concentrated on not-for-gain administration, which he calls “a all-natural segue for me” just after his early gigs doing and instructing bodily theater. 

“So considerably of it’s about interactions,” Criswell points out.

His skilled trajectory led him again to his dwelling condition of Pennsylvania for his initially style of remaining an govt director at Historic Philadelphia Inc., whilst also starting off up his have business, Interactive Antics, to do factors like manage company retreats and educate actors and singers to complete in Victorian costume. 

Then it was on to New York Town, where he expended two heady summers as company manager for the Lincoln Middle Festival. “I had to discover accommodations for 100 dancers from Korea while 50 singers from Brazil were being arriving at the identical time.” Even though there, and for decades later on, he helped create the Greenwich Village Halloween parade.

Although he liked the function, the Lincoln Centre gig was only seasonal, so he took the prospect to grow to be interim director of Hudson Valley Heritage, a job which lasted a 12 months. Returning to New York Town, he ran study-overseas youth applications for the Intercontinental Partnership for Services Understanding and Management. 

His future government director position was for Huge Apple Accomplishing Arts, the umbrella corporation for the New York City Homosexual Men’s Refrain and Youth Delight Chorus. The latter he phone calls “heart work,” citing the way youthful persons estranged from their families blossomed and identified self-self-assurance as they sang together onstage. “The arts have electric power,” Criswell observes.

By 2015, he felt the urge to come again to the Hudson Valley, and took the posture at Omega, which he calls “one of the premier retreat locations on the planet.” Following about 4 yrs, he suggests, “I desired to get back again into govt director mode.” So he bought involved with the startup of the Dharmakaya Heart. “But that abruptly got dismantled by Covid. Then the work at the Middle came out, and I made the decision I needed to get nearer to house physically.”

His new situation at the LGBTQ Heart need to mesh perfectly with the committee get the job done he has been executing on local community troubles as a county legislator. Arts, education funding and public wellbeing are all element of his portfolio. A person of the Center’s ideal-recognized programs is the Nicely-Staying Institute, which provides yoga courses, counseling classes and wellness sources that appear a pure outgrowth of Criswell’s do the job at Interactive Antics, Omega and Dharmakaya.  

It allows that Criswell has developed quite fond of his adopted metropolis of Kingston, which he describes as “a minimal gritty and a good deal artsy.” 

Reaching out to the LGBTQ Center’s underserved constituencies in farther-flung parts of the county will be a priority as he will take the helm, he suggests. The organization’s shift to virtual programming to adapt to the pandemic is anything that he hopes will provide as a extended-term transformative practical experience. “We are unable to ignore this,” he suggests. “In the potential, there is likely to be blended finding out.”