Meet Our Team

The Think Dutchess team is motivated to help attract, grow and retain businesses here in Dutchess County.  Our team is comprised of a highly qualified and diverse staff that loves to live, work and play here in Dutchess!



Think DUtchess CEO Sarah LeeSarah Lee, CEO

Sarah Lee is the Chief Executive Officer of Think Dutchess and Executive Director of the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency.
Ms. Lee is responsible for overall strategic planning, program development and delivery and budget preparation for the agencies. She also oversees administration resource management, organization linkages and staff supervision of Think Dutchess and its departments, including the Business Attraction, Business Retention and Expansion and marketing as it relates to Economic Development.
Sarah Lee joined the former Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation in July of 2013 as a Business Development Specialist. Less than a year later, she became Director of Business Development. Ms. Lee previously held the position of Director of Business Development and Strategic Planning for Health Quest.
Ms. Lee holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and is a graduate of SUNY Albany.

To connect with Sarah, call or email:


Marilyn Yerks, CFO

As Chief Financial Officer, I am responsible for the overall financial, accounting, and compliance aspects of the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency and Think Dutchess, along with dealing with external relationships and the preservation and management of all assets. I bring over 25 years of experience working in the NGO sector, which includes healthcare, land conservation, animal husbandry, and education.

A proud graduate of Marist College, I possess a Master’s in Public Administration and an undergraduate degree in Accounting, along with a Professional Certificate in Fundraising from Boston University.

When friends and relatives visit, we head right to the Walkway Over the Hudson. Whether biking or walking, with spectacular views, tons of eateries, and lots of friendly people a visit to the Walkway makes for a great day out! (For eateries close to the Walkway, my personal favorite for lunch is The Ice House.)

Having grown up in the eastern part of the County, I have seen so many changes to the area. My hometown of Wassaic is now a destination for the creative arts community, along with having a train station again, which gives us quick access to NYC. Beautiful stretches of farmland and small town appeal…good reasons to live, work, and play in Dutchess County.

When not at the office, I am usually lugging my camera equipment around scouting out interesting photo ops:  art found in unusual places, historic buildings, and cemeteries. Or hopping on the train for a quick trip into Manhattan.  And my husband’s and my favorite past time? Trying all of the fabulous restaurants in Dutchess County!

To connect with Marilyn, call or email:


Don Minichino, Director of Business Attraction

Born and educated in New York’s Hudson Valley, I was a journalist, photographer/videographer, ad agency exec, before taking on economic development. As Director of Business Attraction, I’m often busy working with site selectors and corporate executives across the U.S. on the competitive advantages of doing business here in Dutchess County, N.Y., and helping entrepreneurs find the resources to realize their ideas.

I’m co-chair of the Hudson Valley Young Professionals, the premier networking group for young pros in our region, member of the organizational committee for Hudson Valley Tech Meetup, and co-chair of First Friday Poughkeepsie – a monthly Food-Art-Music festival focused on community development. I’m also a Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce 40 Under 40 Honoree and a 2018 graduate of Leadership Dutchess.

When I need a break, you can find me running or biking Walkway Over the Hudson and the Empire State Trail, enjoying trivia night with friends, hiking one of dozens of peaks in the region, disconnecting on an Amtrak trip for a few days to explore a new city, or paddling in a dragon boat race (2018 Dutchess Dragon Boat Champions… Go Vikings!).

To connect with Don, call or email:


Jasmin Haylett, Office Administrator

Jasmin has been with the organization since December 2005.  As Office Administrator for Think Dutchess, she oversees the daily activities of the office.

When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and doing relaxing activities such as sewing, reading, arts and crafts, watching movies, playing board games, and walking.

She has an MBA from Southern New Hampshire University and a BA from Marist College.

To connect with Jasmin, call or email:


Rachel Welch, Communications Coordinator

As the Communications Coordinator, I manage the digital and social media presence for Think Dutchess, assist in event planning, and serve as the press and media contact for the organization.  Although new to the economic development sector, I have extensive experience in managing and building social media accounts for many Dutchess-based small businesses.

A proud graduate of Marist College with a degree in Professional Studies and a minor in Fashion Merchandising, I bring a combination of creativity, business skills and love of Dutchess County to market the benefits that I believe make Dutchess a great place to live, work and play.

A resident for more than 20 years, I am proud to see- and now be a part of- the exciting shift in energy that is revitalizing so many of our communities.  A Poughkeepsie resident, in my free time you can find me (and my black thumb) attempting to keep my garden alive, exploring the rail trail with my husband and daughter, or enjoying a Fig & Pig, at Mill House Brewing Co.

To connect with Rachel, call or email:





A premier business-led organization, Think Dutchess Alliance for Business brings together 12 agency partners creating a one-stop shop for your site selection, financing, incentives, permitting and advocacy, strategic planning and counseling, marketing and networking needs.