The Hudson River Leadership Navigator serves in the Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI) as the leader for initiatives relating to the Hudson River. He provides a link between Federal and New York State agencies and local communities on matters relating to the Hudson’s environment, economy, and heritage. He networks with international and national leadership organizations at conferences and through scholarly research and studies. Specific duties include providing information and advice about available public resources to meet specific needs identified by the river communities and local municipalities, and he assists in resolving bureaucratic issues, counseling nonprofit organizations throughout the region, leveraging funds, providing technical assistance on specific projects, and nurturing partnerships across all levels of government and with private entities. He also serves as HRVI’s liaison to other leadership organizations at Marist College and in the Hudson River Valley.
The American Heritage Rivers Initiative (AHRI) was a network of locally- driven partnerships working to improve quality of life and promote sustainable development. AHRI was established in 1997 by Executive Order 13061, with three objectives: natural resource and environmental protection, economic revitalization, and historic and cultural preservation. The Initiative reached its sunset for Federal funding so each river has moved forward independently with appropriate programs. The Hudson River Navigator has morphed in the Hudson River Leadership Navigator.
Fourteen "American Heritage Rivers" were designated in 1998, out of 126 nominations. Each designated river community received initial assistance from a federally-funded “River Navigator” who served as a liaison between the community partner organization(s) and over a dozen federal agencies. River Navigators helped match available federal resources with specific needs identified by the river communities. They helped resolve bureaucratic issues, coach nonprofit organizations, leverage funds, provide technical assistance on specific projects, and nurture partnerships across all levels of government and with private entities, and more.
The AHRI helped to build local capacity for tapping into the full range of federal sources of funding. It provided incentives and support to build strong public-private partnerships for stewardship and revitalization efforts. The permanent designation as an American Heritage River offers a unique advantage for communities to promote nature and heritage tourism, plan riverfront redevelopments, protect watersheds, and meet other regional needs and interests. Community organizations in designated rivers have been making a difference with projects for restoring river habitats, strengthening local economies, celebrating regional culture and history, teaching watershed stewardship, and rebuilding community pride.
American Heritage Rivers (designated in 1998):
Blackstone-Woonasquatucket Rivers (RI/MA)
Connecticut River (CT, NH, MA, VT)
Cuyahoga River (OH)
Detroit River (MI)
Hanalei River (HI)
Hudson River (NY)
Upper Mississippi River (MO, IA, IL, WI, MN)
Lower Mississippi River (LA, TN)
New River (NC, VA, WV)
Potomac River (MD, DC, PA, VA, WV)
Rio Grande (TX)
St. Johns River (FL)
Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna Rivers (PA)
Willamette River (OR)
Vincent Tamagna was appointed as the Hudson River Navigator in September 2003 and since then has advocated for, promoted, and preserved the Hudson River Valley. As a longtime river enthusiast and past Chairman of the Putnam County Legislature, Vinny was directly involved from the beginning with Governor George E. Pataki in having the Hudson River designated one of America’s fourteen American Heritage Rivers by President Bill Clinton. Vinny’s experience at the time he assumed the position of Navigator allowed him to immediately get to work through a grant to the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College.
The Hudson River Leadership Navigator has accomplished significant projects over his tenure. He assisted in the development of the twelve Patriot Gardens and the establishment of the Hudson River Valley Lighthouse Coalition. Vinny prepared and applied for Putnam County's designation as a "Preserve America" community. Thanks to his efforts, Putnam County was selected, and Vinny and HRVI Executive Director James M. Johnson received the award on behalf of the county and the region from former First Lady Laura Bush, in a ceremony held at the White House.
He has worked actively to revitalize, preserve and protect the character of many communities in the Hudson River Valley. By working with the Lower Hudson-Long Island Resource Conservation and Development Council and partnering with the USDA and the NYS Department of Agriculture, he initiated "Fresh Off the Barge" which has brought fresh New York State agricultural products to consumers via a barge on the Hudson River. Vinny was also the Founder of the Lower-Hudson/Long Island Resource Conservation and Development Council and has been an advocate for the protection of the environment balanced with economic development/smart growth and tourism. The Hudson River Navigator has hosted conferences for the Hudson River Boat and Yacht Clubs and worked with the American Cancer Society and The American Lung Association on an Air Quality Conference for the Hudson River Valley. He also was a participant in the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism and served on the New York State Y2K Task Force.