Whether you’re a morning person or a never-ever-before-noon (or at least two cups of coffee) type, this is one Dawn you can’t help but notice! And not just notice, but truly and deeply admire.
Like her daybreak namesake, Dawn Greenberg lights up the New Castle community in many wondrous ways. She is a regular and visible presence in town, as well as the founder and ongoing contributing member of many renowned local organizations. Creative, savvy and hard-working, Dawn is a shining example of how one individual can turn great ideas into actionable realities.
Here, Inside Chappaqua’s top ten salute to Dawn Greenberg:
- Wife: Paul Greenberg is yang to Dawn’s yin, the sometimes frustrated (so many projects in their home!, so much demand on her time!) but always supportive and proud husband!
- Mother: It’s a job/title/hat many proudly wear. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less noteworthy–cheers to the moms in all our incarnations! That said, when your particular incarnation includes a special-needs child, there’s usually some extra sacrifice and work along with the usual growing pains. Dawn has worked tirelessly with both the Chappaqua PTA and Special Education Committees to help enrich the educational experience for her sons,11th grader Jackson who has autism and 8th grader Ben, and their Chappaqua classmates.
- Retailer: From 2011-2014, Aurora, Dawn’s name-derivative boutique was many a shopper’s first and last stop for one-of-a-kind gifts. From moms looking for their gal-pal’s perfect birthday present to dads and kids in search of something unexpected for Mother’s Day, the shop offered a treasure trove of options. Aurora inspired Dawn to become more involved with the town–fellow townspeople and merchants alike. When Dawn closed the shop in 2014, she promised it was going to be much more of a “see you later” than “goodbye”.
- Founder of The Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival: Seven years ago, Dawn heard that one of her favorite seasonal activities, Tarrytown’s Sunnyside children’s book fair, was going to be discontinued. Saddened by what it would mean for her own boys and the countless other young book-lovers, she decided better to embrace this particular closing door by opening an even bigger window. That was in March of 2012 and by September of that very same year, Dawn had put together the inaugural Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival with 60 authors. Although generally very self-effacing, Dawn allows that this was “one of my proudest moments.” This past October 2019, the Festival grew to include some 145 authors, patrons from far and wide and a reputation as one of the pre-eminent book fairs in the country.
- Co-Founder of One Book Westchester: Dawn’s newest book-centric project takes reading, literacy awareness and community to the next level. Working with the Westchester County Executive’s Office, the Westchester Library System and BOCES, she expects the concept to unite people through a shared literary experience; from schools and libraries and bookstores, to bookclubs and dinners and historic re-enactments, every community is invited to put their spin on the theme and share with others. While the concept isn’t new, most places have done it with just a single adult-level book. At Dawn’s suggestion, One Book Westchester is also amping up the idea to include elementary-aged story books by Eric Velasquez, a middle-school-level book, The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani and an adult-level book, Dear George, Dear Mary by Mary Calvi.
- Founder of…: shhhh – you heard it here first – Not one to rest on her laurels, Dawn’s plans include creating a Children’s Book Festival for Manhattan, perhaps as early as next spring!
- National Literacy Award Recipient: As mentioned, Dawn is never one to toot her own horn. So, it is only through word of mouth that this reporter learned of her Daughters of the American Revolution first-place National Literacy Award acknowledging her dedicated years of work. Brava, Dawn!
- Co-Founder of (914) Cares: Originally known as Chappaqua Cares, this grassroots organization has expanded to include a fulltime team of directors and officers. The mission is to provide help throughout Westchester to all those struggling with the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care.
- Feed Me Fresh Award Recipient: Another well-deserved nod of recognition, this time from the Mount Kisco Childcare Center, which honored Dawn at its fall gala for her part in community affairs.
- Political Activist: A member of the Democratic Party, Dawn is also a known local activist. She was instrumental in helping to organize the many local Hillary Clinton supporters into a cohesive campaign strategy grassroots group know as Chappaqua Friends of Hillary back in 2016. And, when things didn’t go the way they’d hoped, the group (in keeping with Dawn’s “turn lemons in to lemonade” philosophy”) expanded their platform and rebranded themselves.
Up2Us now has more than 4,000 members and expects to canvass and work tirelessly for the 2020 Democratic nominee. Asked how she became interested in politics, Dawn recounts that her family has always been involved as far back as a grandfather who ran for Governor of Georgia.
More importantly, and coming full circle to her roles as wife/mom/community member, Dawn says that it’s important to model engagement for our kids. They need to see–not just hear lip service to–that “one person CAN make a difference.”
Meet Madeline Finesmith
Like many who move to town, Dawn and Madeline became friends via their children during a Mommy and Meclass, and it is a friendship that has blossomed over time through many mutual interests. It also helps that Madeline, like Dawn, is energy personified. A former Ernst & Young consultant, with a law degree to boot, she knew the rigor and risk-taking aspects of her former corporate life would be a good fit for a start-up festival. So, when Dawn sent an email lamenting the demise of the Tarrytown Fair and suggesting a Chappaqua reboot, Madeline was quick to reply she was “all in” to help make it happen. Her logistics and financial skills were invaluable to the start-up process, and, thanks to those early efforts, more recent festivals have seen sponsors clamoring to participate. Not only did Madeline help to grow the festival, but the festival helped her growth toward a new career path: Volunteer Recruitment and PR Manager for JCY-Westchester Community Partners, one of her early philanthropic research connections for the festival. Sharing “this Book Festival has given me a lot, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.” Madeline, again much like Dawn, is quick to also point out that she’s “just a piece of it, but there are lots of pieces!”