Courtney Wingate has joined Sylvester Manor Educational Farm as director of development, a new position created by the no-profit to oversee fundraising. Born and raised in East Hampton, Ms. Wingate has over 16 years of experience in business, education and the nonprofit sector.
“I’ve been coming to Shelter Island my whole life,” she said in a recent interview. “But I never knew this place existed. It’s like a little national treasure.”
Most recently, Ms. Wingate was the associate director of development at the Ross School, where she was responsible for fundraising initiatives, running the alumni association and a digital quarterly alumni newsletter that she instituted. She oversaw all development-based events for the school, which accounted for one-half of the annual development budget of nearly $1.4 million. She happened first saw Sylvester Manor on a visit with her husband and two young children from their East Hampton home.
“It is the coolest place I never knew about,” she said. “It has a huge past and to be a part of its future is really exciting. What that future is, is yet unknown, because we are still figuring out our priorities and next steps.”
Ms. Wingate holds a Master of Science in School Counseling from Long Island University, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from SUNY Geneseo and has also been certified as a New York State school counselor for pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
Prior to commencing a career in education, she held positions in marketing and finance in New York City for Titan Capital Group, Deutsche Bank Securities and the United Nations.
The Manor house has, since 1652, been continually inhabited by descendants of the Sylvester family. It was reimagined as an educational farm in 2009 after it was inherited by Eben Fiske Ostby and his nephew, Bennett Konesni. Managed today by a board of directors and run by a small staff supported by numerous volunteers, the Manor “is now the community’s to explore, learn from and at, and enjoy,” according to its website.
Originally a slaveholding provisioning plantation, the Manor has an organic farm, a community supported agricultural program, and offers an array of historical, educational and cultural activities.
To date, over 100 acres of Sylvester Manor lands have been permanently protected from future development, including 22 acres along Gardiners Creek where the 1737 Manor house sits, and 80 acres of farmland, according to the Manor’s website. All but 11 acres of the 234-acre property have been donated to the non-profit Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.