Westchester Parks Foundation Honors “Parksters” During 40th Anniversary Gala

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Westchester Parks Foundation Honors “Parksters” During 40th Anniversary Gala

September 23, 2017 - 11:39

From left: Joe Stout, Executive Director, Westchester Parks Foundation; Honoree John Baker; Honoree Scott Vaccaro; Honorees Betsy and Wally Stern; Honoree Ken Puff; and Westchester County Parks Commissioner Kathy O’Connor.

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WHITE PLAINS, NY -- Westchester Parks Foundation (WPF) honored five individuals during its 2017 gala celebration on Thursday, September 14 at Westchester County Center in White Plains. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, WPF’s mission continues to be to encourage investment in Westchester County’s 18,000 acres of parks, trails and open spaces.

This year’s honorees were philanthropists Betsy and Wally Stern; Ken Puff, CEO of Party Line Tent Rentals, Westchester Tool Rentals; Scott Vaccaro, Founder, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company; and longtime parks professional John Baker.

WPF is the largest and most active organization advocating for the Westchester park system. Since its inception in 1977, it has held close to the notion that it is critical to provide ongoing support for maintenance, civic improvement and access to nature. The following individuals will be honored for their support of parks.

The Honorees:

Philanthropy Leadership Award

Betsy and Wally Stern

Betsy and Wally Stern, of Scarsdale, will receive the award for their understanding of and appreciation for the preservation of Westchester’s park system, including the founding of WPF’s volunteer program. They will also be recognized for their dedication and advocacy outreach that continues to beautify and enhance parks for everyone to enjoy.

Betsy is the former president of the board of Westchester Community College as well as former chair, where she initiated several programs including the Volunteer Center, and has led two capital campaigns. She is on the Westchester Community College Board of Trustees and currently serving as the vice chair. Her husband, Wally, is associated with Capital Group Companies, Inc., a large investment management firm which manages over $900 billion. He is vice chairman and a director of Capital International, Inc. A chartered financial analyst, Wally is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a board member of The American Committee on Foreign Relations, a member of the Board of Visitors of the Monterey Institute and on the Advisory Board of the CFA Centre Advisory Council.

Business Impact Award

Ken Puff, CEO of Party Line Tent Rentals, Westchester Tool Rentals

For 25 years, Ken Puff, of Yorktown, has provided unwavering support to the Westchester community, Westchester Parks Foundation and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, enhancing the public’s experience in our parks and outdoor spaces.

Party Line Tent Rentals, located in Elmsford, is a three-generation, family-owned company currently celebrating its 26th year in business. Puff is also the founder of several other enterprises, which include: Westchester Tool Rentals, Roadrunner Mobile Kitchens and Green Monster Manufacturing, LLC, a supplier of specialty tools for the tenting industry. Puff has been a member of the Mid-Atlantic Tent Renters Association since the organization was formed in 1993 and currently serves on the board as secretary and on the IAUA board as treasurer. Puff has contributed and assisted in creating industry standards for safety, training and product development along with supporting his hometown Elmsford and the surrounding communities.

Community Partner Award

Scott Vaccaro, Founder, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.

Vaccaro will be recognized for his generous partnership on programs and projects that bring people together in support of Westchester Parks Foundation and the communities that it serves.

Vaccaro grew up in South Salem. He attended Villanova University and University of California, Davis where he studied fermentation science. In 2006, he opened Captain Lawrence Brewing in Pleasantville with a twenty-barrel brew system, and a modest tasting room. It wasn’t long before its beers started to gain notoriety, garnering its first Great American Beer Fest Gold Medal for Cuvee de Castleton in 2007. After five years in Pleasantville, Captain Lawrence moved to its current location in Elmsford, with more brewing capacity and an expanded beer garden and tasting room. Since then, the brewery has continued to expand, as has its distribution footprint, which today runs up and down the East Coast, as well as to select international locations. Vacarro has supported local causes, including Westchester Parks Foundation, and is pleased to be able to give back to the community that has made Captain Lawrence a great Westchester success story. Vaccaro resides in Waccabuc.

Special Recognition for Service to Parks

John Baker

Baker will be honored for his passion and dedication to parks and conservation. Specifically to Camp Morty, a summer retreat that WPF operates for disadvantaged children in the county, he was instrumental to the program’s success in providing meaningful outdoor experiences for underprivileged children residing in Westchester County.

Baker has had a 25-year career at the Westchester County Parks Department, most recently as Director of Conservation. His professional experience includes natural resource identification and stewardship, complex land project management, urban and suburban land use planning, environmental regulatory compliance, financial management, and the cultivation of a broad network of relationships. After retiring from Westchester County, Mr. Baker joined the Westchester Land Trust as Land Conservation Projects Manager. Baker resides in Danbury, CT. 

For more information about Westchester County Parks, please visit