Meet Our New Executive Director

Richard Heyl de Ortiz

In December 2023, Richard is joining The Community Center’s team as our new Executive Director, bringing with him a 30+ year career devoted to equity, inclusion, social justice, advocacy, and community-building.

His life’s work has focused on issues that are central to the LGBTQ+ community:

  • fostering cultural competence
  • supporting and incorporating diverse communities and perspectives
  • working to create a sense of belonging and overcome bias based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and socio-economic status

Starting on December 6th, as Richard gets settled into his new role at The Community Center, he will be onsite at The Community Center and will soon be a very visible presence in our community.

Professional headshot of Richard Heyl de Ortiz

Fun Facts about Richard

icon of state of new york with a heart on top of New Paltz

Born and raised in New Paltz

icon of dog and a heart

Lover of dogs, history and old houses

icon of man with glasses smiling

Voted most intellectual and biggest gossip in high school

person parachuting

Jumped out of a plane solo

one groom

Met Anthony, his husband, 29 years ago and married at Town Hall in Sharon, Connecticut

Q&A

While Richard is getting to know all of us, we’d like to get to know him as well! We asked him to share a bit about himself in an informal Q&A, which he was happy to do!

What are your favorite hobbies?

  • Cooking, with a special love of baking.
  • Reading of all sorts. Never enough time to read. I find it very hard to throw out or get rid of a book, even after I’ve read it.
  • Working on an old house is at times gruesome and tedious, but that moment of walking into a space that is my vision makes it worthwhile.
  • Especially moved by the work of Camille Pissarro (he’s got a great back story) and Jackson Pollock. It’s a personal mission to see every piece of work by Pollock — and it’s surprising the places they pop up.
  • Spending a day in the city.
Family photo of Richard, Anthony, and two of their children outside of the New York Public Library on a sunny day.

Photo of Richard, Anthony, and their nephews at the New York Public Library

Indoor photo of Richard with two colleagues in Albany

Advocacy in Albany – Richard with colleagues (Claudia and KT)

What drives your passion for your work?

My commitment to racial, ethnic and social equity stems from my lived experience in the child welfare system, my queer identity and my life as a transracial adoptive parent. And nothing challenges and excites me more than opportunities to support advocacy, build community and resolve complex issues.

What was your first experience of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ+ Center?

I remember touring the building with Ginny Apuzzo and her wife Barbara Fried soon after it was purchased as the Community Center and thinking, “This is a bit mind-bending.” I grew up here, came out in high school in New Paltz, which on balance is far more embracing than many other places in our country, especially at that time, and still, I had to leave here and move to the city to “find my community” and myself. And there I was with Ginny and Barbara thinking, “I can’t believe a place like this is really happening here.” 

I hope that I can be a part of making the Community Center a strong, visible, inclusive resource not just for Kingston, but for all of us in the Hudson Valley. We’ve got to build up the Community Center and take that energy out into the region.

a 2016 outdoor photo of Richard and Anthony in Boothbay Harbor, Main on a sunny day with the beautiful Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in the background

Richard and Anthony at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Boothbay Harbor, Maine – 2016

Indoor photo of Anthony, Jen Metzger, and Richard who is holding the children’s book “Riley the Brave” with several other children’s books in the background.

Richard and his husband, Anthony, with Ulster County Executive, Jen Metzger at a National Literacy Day read-in in 2019.

What was it like having a job interview with community members in October?

When I explained to friends and others that my third interview, so to speak, was a group discussion with about 25 to 30 people, I generally get a gasp or a comment along the lines of “Weren’t you nervous?”  The thing of it is, I wasn’t nervous or scared in any way. No flop sweat. It felt like the most natural thing, a conversation. I appreciated every question that came my way. What really struck me was how many people care enough about our LGBTQ community and the Community Center to come out on a dreary Saturday afternoon and be part of the process.