The Office of the President

Office of the President Staff


Shelly WrightShelly Wright
Chief of Staff and Vice President for Communication
Phone: (845) 257-3291

Shelly Wright oversees daily operations of the President’s Office at the State University of New York at New Paltz and directs executive and institutional communication and shapes the university’s interaction with its many internal and external constituencies. Ms. Wright serves on the President’s Cabinet, the campus’s senior leadership team, along with the President and seven Vice Presidents, to shape college policy for New Paltz, a 7,750-student (6,800 undergraduate, 950 graduate) public comprehensive master’s institution. She serves as the Chief Government Relations Officer, working with village, town, county, state and federal officials to collaborate and advocate for the university’s needs. She is also Secretary to the College Council, the local governance oversight committee that includes nine governor-appointed individuals and the elected Student Association president. She guides the President on communication strategy, including writing and editing remarks, public addresses, monthly reports and presentations. She plans and advises on many campus meetings and events, including press conferences, dignitary/VIP visits, commencements, presidential inaugurations, memorials, groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings. She is campus liaison to the following SUNY System Offices: Chancellor, Communication, Government Relations and Legal Counsel. Wright also serves as campus Records Access Officer. She regularly represents the college at various community, government and business functions.

As Vice President for Communication, Wright directs the university’s strategic communication efforts. She supervises the Office of Communication & Marketing, which employs 23 full-time staff members (four direct reports) and encompasses Crisis Communication, Internal Communication/News, Media Relations, Marketing, Advertising, Web, Social Media, Video, Print and Digital Design, Print Shop, Mail Services, and Alumni Communication (New Paltz Magazine and alumni e-newsletter). She is responsible for the President’s Office and Communication & Marketing budgets and co-manages an institutional marketing initiatives budget. In her role, she manages implementation of the university’s brand identity across campus. She helped lead the Brand Marketing Task Force with the Vice President for Enrollment Management and two outside higher education marketing companies to research, create, and launch a new brand identity for the university in 2010. The centralized Office of Communication & Marketing supports the institution’s recruitment, retention, fundraising, awareness building and reputational management activities.

She created the liaison model between the Office of Communication & Marketing staff and departments across campus to better serve campus clients and further integrate institutional communication efforts. In the last five years, she partnered with the Vice President for Enrollment Management and the Brand Marketing Consultant, who conducted more than 100 student focus groups to assess their attitudes/perceptions of the university. The research has contributed to institutional actions and process changes to improve recruitment and the student experience. She also has been instrumental in shaping the university’s emergency communication procedures.

Before joining the President’s Office in 2003, Ms. Wright spent seven years as a full-time public relations and journalism faculty member in the Department of Communication & Media at SUNY New Paltz (1996-2003). During that time, she helped start and coordinated the Public Relations Program and briefly worked as interim director in the SUNY New Paltz Office of Public Affairs in 2002. She also taught for many years in the university’s Institute for International Business semester certificate program, a two-month on campus academic program followed by a two-month professional internship in New York City leading to a Certificate in American Business Practices.

Prior to arriving at New Paltz, Wright served as a faculty member teaching public relations and journalism at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, for three years (1993-96) also serving as faculty adviser to the student newspaper and yearbook. Her professional experience includes two years (1987-89) working in public relations for an international nonprofit organization in Geneva, Switzerland, where she wrote and edited print materials for distribution to internal and external audiences in both German and English. She also worked as a staff writer for The (Middletown, New York) Times Herald-Record (1990-94), a 90,000-circulation daily newspaper in the Hudson Valley, where she covered municipal government, education (including the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Newburgh School District, the ninth-largest in New York State), business and police beats, and served as a part-time copy editor, editing stories, writing headlines, selecting wire service copy and proofing pages (1995-1999).

A first-generation college student, Wright earned her B.A. in journalism and German at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, in 1987, and spent her junior year as an exchange student in Bonn, Germany. She earned her M.S. in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1990. She has completed doctoral coursework in sociology, communication and higher education administration at the University at Albany. She resides in New Paltz with her husband, Lee, who is a SUNY New Paltz alumnus.



Rich Winters

Richard Winters
Director of Community and Government Relations
Haggerty 902B
(845) 257-3297

Richard Winters supports the work of the college president and chief of staff/vice president for communication, and helps develop and execute institutional initiatives and strategic planning priorities. As director of community and government relations, he works to strengthen regional and community engagement, market the College internally and externally, and create and enhance relationships with multiple campus and external constituencies. This function includes planning, directing, and executing institutional-level events, and serving as a key liaison between the office and government officials, chambers of commerce, and other business and community organizations. Winters represents and accompanies the president at various regional events with these and other groups and SUNY System-wide programs, including advocacy days and other key legislative opportunities for the College. He also supports and manages records requests and other legal matters, as well as economic development projects that come before the President’s Office.

In addition to these roles, Winters is a member of the Office of Communication and Marketing and supervises a design and brand services direct-report, who oversees brand compliance and the manager of the College’s print and mail services team. He supports the College’s strategic communication efforts, including writing/editing presidential correspondence, public remarks, campus-wide announcements and news releases; consulting on design and brand issues; and crisis communication.

Before joining the President’s Office as community and government relations associate in 2013, Winters worked for nearly three years as a freshman admission advisor in the College’s Office of Undergraduate Admission. He was responsible for advising prospective students through the admission and enrollment processes. He also reviewed and fully evaluated applications for first-year admission, conducted on- and off-campus information sessions for families of prospective students, and coordinated with academic faculty to enhance the admission process for the College’s seven-year joint medical programs. 

Winters serves as a longtime member and chair of the College’s Judicial Hearing Committee, overseeing hearings for students who face various violations of institutional policy.

Winters began his professional career working for Former Congressman John Hall from 2008 to 2011, initially as a staff assistant and then as a district representative. He led outreach efforts to constituents within the congressman’s district that included parts or all of several counties in the Hudson Valley. He interacted with local, state, and federal officials, business/community members, and other stakeholders on issues affecting the district. He also guided economic development projects, managed individual constituent casework issues, and designed and executed events on behalf of the congressman.

Winters is a proud graduate of SUNY New Paltz. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science in 2008, and a Master of Arts in higher education administration from Stony Brook University in 2013. He resides in Wappingers Falls with his wife, Alex, a 2009 SUNY New Paltz alumna, and their son, Logan.

Cathi CastilloCathi Castillo
Executive Secretary
Phone: (845) 257-3288

Cathi Castillo became Executive Secretary to the President in June 2011.

She joined the College in 2006 as a Keyboard Specialist 1 in the Department of Human Resources and later became Department Secretary and Assistant to the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources. Prior to that, she served for seven years as Office Manager for Valley Management, a property management company in New Paltz. Cathi also owned and operated her own business for 13 years. 

Lisa DavisLisa Davis
Administrative Assistant 1
Phone: (845) 257-3291

Lisa moved to the Hudson Valley area in April, 1998, and started work at SUNY New Paltz in the Office of Human Resources. In May, 1999, she accepted a job in the President's Office as secretary to the Executive Assistant to the President. She previously worked at SUNY Stony Brook in the Division of Campus Residences and prior to that worked at Monroe Community College in the President's Office as the secretary to the Executive Assistant to the President.

Lisa and her husband, Scott, reside in Kingston, NY.