Meet Our Team

Every purchase supports our mission to train and hire Poughkeepsie residents who face physical, mental and societal barriers to employment

Madeline Henriquez

CEO, Co-founder

Born and raised in Perth Amboy, NJ, Madeline was inspired by the many women in her life who made magic in the kitchen. A loud and proud Dominican woman, Madeline was born feet-first and determined to change the world.  Before incorporating Earth, Wind & Fuego, Madeline worked in human services for 14 years in different capacities, starting as an administrative assistant for a local not-for-profit social justice organization and advancing into managerial roles in health care reform, advocacy, reproductive health and justice, and gender violence. If ever a time when Madeline’s chef hat comes “off”, she enjoys more cooking, spending time with loved ones, travel and especially writing. She is a poet, adult romance & erotica writer, and comedienne and has shared her work at venues such as The Falcon, The Wherehouse, The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center and 2 Alices Coffee Lounge. Madeline is a member of the Evolving Wordsmiths and has participated in the recitation of Poet Gold’s “Poughkeepsie Project, Poetically”(2016) at Barnes & Noble. Henriquez is currently working on a new comedy set titled “Mami raised me Catholic but I chose to be a nasty woman”. 

Jay Herman, LMSW


Jay is a social worker, artivist, and lover of baking creativity. They previously worked as the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator in Dutchess County before co-founding Earth, Wind & Fuego in 2017. Jay received a Masters in Social Work at Adelphi University and has worked for and volunteered at human service agencies throughout Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties, receiving the Asset Builder/Outstanding Youth Worker Award in 2015 from the Orange County Executive’s Youth Bureau Awards. They served as a commission member of the Dutchess County Human Rights Commission and volunteered with Poughkeepsie O+ and  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County. As a poet and spoken word artist, Jay uses writing and performance as a platform to shed light on systemic oppression and privilege, calling for unity among all people. They won the first ever Milkweed Poetry Slam in Sugar Loaf, NY, for their piece “Pulse” on the Orlando nightclub massacre.

Manuel “Manny” Concepcion

Prep Cook, Bartender, OG

A native New Yorker born and raised, Manny is a Vietnam Era Veteran, proud father of five, grandfather and musician. He is a Dutchess Community College graduate, earning an Associates in Liberal Arts and is a Certified Auto Mechanic and Machinist through DC BOCES. Manny works with YER Stage Productions as a stage builder and soundboard operator. He plays at open mics in the Poughkeepsie area as often as possible including at Earth, Wind & Fuego’s monthly Fiesta Friday event. He enjoys volunteering and giving back to the community. Manny was the first graduate of Hudson River Housing’s Employment Assistance Training Station (EATS) Program with Earth, Wind & Fuego. Upon completion of the program, Manny was hired as a Prep Cook in April 2018. Shortly upon hire, he completed the NYS Safe Serve Alcohol Training and now serves as in-house Bartender. He continues to excel in this role, providing training and mentorship to new team members as well other functions to support the continued success of the company. He is currently training for a managerial position. 

“Inspired by their Mission statement I enjoy the work, well being, camaraderie and all around Good Feelings and reactions with customers and staff. Life is Good.” – Manny

Sylvia Johnson

Prep Cook

Sylvia was born in the small town of Monroeville, Alabama in 1963 and began cooking at the age of 7. Growing up, her family had a. Farm and instead of going into the fields, she started to learn how to cook. Back then, they would eat four meals a day at 5am, 10am, 2pm and 6pm which Sylvia prepared with her grandmother when her grandmother wasn’t working as a nanny or restaurant cook. Sylvia came to Poughkeepsie in 1997, working in the food industry including as a dietary aide at The Pines (formerly Eden Park). She worked in the food industry for over 20 years until workplace injuries left her out of work for nearly 10 years. She has volunteered at Meals on Wheels of the Greater Poughkeepsie at Cannon Street since 2015.

Sylvia’s passion is food, which brings people together. Though she found that fulfilling, it wasn’t enough. She learned about the Hudson River Housing EATS Program and began training with Earth, Wind & Fuego in 2018, joining the team as a Prep Cook in 2019. She likes giving back to the community and being part of the mission of Earth, Wind & Fuego, reaching people one meal at a time.

Bobbie Davis

Barista, Bartender

Bob joined Earth, Wind & Fuego through the Hudson River Housing EATS Program partnership in 2019 and has been a Barista with Earth, Wind & Fuego ever since.

Kelly Cash

Bakery Assistant

Kelly was born and raised in Hyde Park, attending Roosevelt High School and graduating in 1984. She started working that same year in maintenance and food service at IBM. She later worked as a Prep Cook and Dishwasher at Pizza Hut from 1991-1995. Earth, Wind & Fuego is Kelly’s first job since 1995, after life circumstances led her to decades of time out of work. In the last few years, Kelly has become more active, volunteering at Hudson River Housing’s Hillcrest House in the kitchen since 2017. Soon after, she participated in the UPcycle Program at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory before joining the EATS Training Program at Earth, Wind & Fuego. Kelly’s passion for baking and her drive to learn something new every day, helped her excel in the bakery department. She officially joined Earth, Wind & Fuego as a Bakery Assistant in January of 2020.

“I wanted to better myself for my mental stability. I like keeping myself busy and keeping my mind focused. I love working at Earth, Wind & Fuego and I love being a part of this team. I’m happy now with who I am, versus how I used to be.” 

Christina Hughes

Barista, Bartender, Marketing Extraordinaire

A lifelong lover of music (and most things, actually) Christina has studied classical flute for the past 15 years. She attended New York University and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelors degree in Nutrition and Public Health, and minors in Environmental Science and Music. Her passions are varied, and include cooking and baking, reading, traveling, laughing, and spending time alone in nature. She is a Lagree Fitness instructor and vintage clothing collector. She is a diehard lover of classic rock, and an aspecting Adirondack 46er. Simple things bring her the most joy – she loves to laugh, be kind, and be generally pursue spontaneity. The most important thing in her life is her spiritual journey and personal development. She dislikes red Starbursts and Tom Petty. (She knows you probably disagree)

Christina’s tenure at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory has brought her through many-a-transition, starting in 2017 with North River Roasters, then the Hudson River Housing Coffee House, and finally officially joining the Earth, Wind & Fuego team in 2020!

John Juanis


A transplant from Spring Hill, Florida. Fresh out of high school, he moves to NYC and attended the Swedish Institute for massage. Years later, he moved to his current residency in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he peruses his love and passion in the arts as a student, working towards his bachelor’s in digital cinematography. With the amount of time dedicated to, and the vast knowledge of food, cuisine and hospitality, John contributes beyond his coffee art. John cares deeply for the community, observing any opportunity that would allow him to lend a helping hand.

“I am honored to work with people who see the importance in helping those who have not been dealt a good deck of cards.”

Kashanta Fletcher


Our newest team member, Kashanta joined Earth, Wind & Fuego in 2020. Full bio and picture coming soon…

EATS Program

Hudson River Housing partnership

An 80-hour Culinary Training Program places Hudson River Housing residents in training positions with food businesses operating out of the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory. Participants learn all aspects of culinary arts from food prep, presentation, sanitation, customer service and more, preparing them with new skills and confidence to re-enter the workforce in the growing Hudson Valley hospitality industry. Participants work a flexible schedule and earn a $400 stipend upon completion of the program, as well as NYS Food Handling & Serv Safe Certification.

Youth Leap

Hudson River Housing partnership

Youth LEAP places teens and young adults (agest 16-24) in short-term paid jobs with Poughkeepsie‐based businesses, while also providing wrap‐around support and soft skills training. LEAP positions are available year‐round and require no previous experience. Available jobs include positions in retail, food service, media, office administration, and more.

Teen Business Lab

Hudson River Housing partnership

Geared to teens ages 14 and up, the Teen Business Lab is an after-school program that teaches basic business skills, builds community leadership, and inspires Poughkeepsie teens to becomes entrepreneurs and leaders in their community.

The program combines a series of workshops on business development paired with culinary skills and always ended with a delicious family-style meal enjoyed together. We hope to launch another series in 2020. Stay tuned for updates!

Why work with us?

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