PEAKS Welcomes New Director in 2014!

A Farewell Letter from PEAKS Co-Founder, Emma Frisch:

Dear friends of PEAKS,

I always welcome the holiday season as a time to reflect and give thanks. As I look back on the past twelve years while preparing for 2014, I feel truly blessed. I have a lot to be thankful for! At the top of my list is an exciting transition for PEAKS, which I’m writing to share with you today.

After dedicating the past five years of my life to raising PEAKS, I feel confident that now is the time to pass my torch as Director and welcome fresh energy with the New Year. I have given my transition careful thought to ensure that it will be smooth and seamless, and that anyone affiliated with PEAKS will only benefit from this change.

I’m honored to introduce you to Ray Weaver, the new Director of PEAKS! Ray is one of the most dynamic, creative, thoughtful, enthusiastic and dependable people I know. If I could choose anyone to fill my shoes, it would be Ray. I believe he truly has the talent and motivation to take PEAKS to new heights. I would like you to get to know Ray better, so please take a moment to read his full bio below. Don’t hesitate to reach out and welcome him on board!

When I look back at what we have accomplished in the past two years alone, I feel proud and even a bit teary. We’re really making change happen here at PEAKS!

  • We’ve helped over forty changemakers collectively raise more than ¼ million in funding.
  • We’ve discovered that on average, 48% of the funds raised originated from outside the campaign’s host state, helping to overcome the competition for local resources while expanding donor networks.
  • With our extraordinary web developer’s efforts and invaluable beta testing from our users, we launched PEAKS 2.0, a new version of the website with improved user-interface and functionality.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! In the spring, Ray will be hosting the first PEAKS Crowdfunding Certification at Cornell University, along with several exciting workshops and presentations that you will surely hear about.

My own journey building PEAKS has been one of the most formative and gratifying experiences of my life. In addition to learning the essential details of starting an organization from the ground up, I also came to understand the importance of pivoting to better fulfill the needs of my community. In five years we grew from supporting mountain farmers in Ecuador to serving changemakers internationally working in five different program areas, including energy and environment, youth development, agriculture, food and nutrition, and strengthening family and community. I became skilled at coaching people in the exciting new field of crowdfunding, giving me the gift of meeting hundreds of inspiring individuals with groundbreaking ideas for making the world a better place.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the incredible support and encouragement that my dear friends, family and colleagues have provided over the past five years. I want to keep this brief, so please know that I am sending you waves of love if I have not yet had the opportunity to do so in person. In particular, I would like to reiterate my appreciation for my co-founders, Steve Sherwood and Chris Sacco, who hatched the original idea for Peaks Over Poverty on a mountaintop in Ecuador. I would also like to thank my dear friend, Tony Amoyal, who created the first website for PEAKS and turned our idea into reality! An enormous thanks goes to Kenneth Schlather, the Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCETC). His vision for PEAKS, and his collaboration and partnership through CCETC, catalyzed PEAKS and made it the successful platform it is today. I want to thank Pat Haggerty for developing a highly functional, user-friendly platform; Pat is one of the most exceptional out-of-the-box web developers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. I am deeply grateful for the warm, dynamic CCETC community, which embraced PEAKS with an open mind and an open heart. I will be forever thankful to my husband, Bobby, and my family for their steadfast encouragement and support.

So where am I off to? Well, some of you may have been following my side project, Cayuga St. Kitchen, where I’ve been cooking up my passion for food. I’m now diving into a full-time culinary career! My husband, Bobby, and I are planning to launch an eco-friendly “glamping” resort on a stunning farm or vineyard in the region. I will be spearheading the unique, farm-to-table culinary experience at our off-the-grid site, where guests will stay in beautifully furnished canvas tents that bring them closer to nature without sacrificing modern-day comforts. We are excited to build on the lessons we learned starting a boutique hotel in Nicaragua, and hope to reach new peaks with our next project. (I will be sure to let you know where we pop up, and will look forward to your visit!)

I am positively overjoyed knowing that PEAKS will continue to grow and thrive under Ray’s leadership. I will be cheering heartily from the sidelines!

I am so grateful for all your support to PEAKS, and look forward to collaborating in the future. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for joining me in funding the change we want to see in the world!

With enormous gratitude and HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Emma Frisch

PEAKS Co-Founder & Director (2008 – 2013)

PEAKS New Director, Ray Weaver, with Emma Frisch


Ray joined Cooperative Extension in 2010 as a Community Educator, informing residents in Tompkins County about the various alternative transportation options available to them. Ray implemented several public awareness relating to sustainable transportation such as CarShare on the Commons, which celebrated Ithaca CarShare and the rideshare platform Zimride, Bike to Work Day, which saw nearly 500 individuals commute to work in Ithaca via bicycle,World Car-Free Day, which awarded individuals with free bus passes for using public transit that day and many other activities. Ray has spoken at several conferences throughout New York State about sustainable transportation, specifically around education and community engagement. He has been published by the National Center for Senior Transportation, a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration and the U.S. Administration on Aging for examining senior drivers and their attitudes towards transportation barriers, and has written nearly $1,000,000.00 in funding proposals to continue transportation education in Upstate New York.

Ray became more involved in Fundraising and Event Management in 2011 when he was asked to be the Marketing Coordinator for the Tough Turtle, Ithaca’s first 5K obstacle course. Through various social media, print and broadcast marketing initiatives, this first-year event sold out in under 15 hours, and raised nearly $70,000 dollars. Shortly thereafter, Ray was asked to oversee an annual 5K race for 4-H Youth Development, a fundraiser that typically had 100 participants and raised $1,500. By making a few small changes to the event, it grew to having over 600 runners and raising nearly $10,000 that year. Seeing the interest and popularity in these types of events, Ray took a leap of faith and organized a glow-in-the-dark 5K race, once of the first of its kind nationwide. This race was one of the largest ever in Ithaca with nearly 2,400 runners and raising approximately $30,000. In addition to 5K races, Ray has organized other events such as benefit dinners, community service events and capital campaigns.

Ray brings his campus and community connections to the table as the new Director of Peaks, and is looking forward to helping individuals accomplish their crowdfunding and fundraising goals using the Peaks Platform!

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    In partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, PEAKS supports changemakers working in five program areas.