VALEOpr Steers Stakeholder Engagement for Newest Client, Corn Hill Navigation

VALEOpr opened its Rochester, NY office in 2015 and welcomed its first western New York client, Corn Hill Navigation (CHN), shortly thereafter. Corn Hill Navigation is a nonprofit organization connecting the local community and visitors to Rochester’s historic waterways through authentic, guided boat experiences and educational programs. They currently operate the Sam Patch – a replica 1800s packet boat – along the Erie Canal out of Pittsford, NY.


The organization operated the Mary Jemison along the waters of the Genesee River in downtown Rochester for eight seasons. But the aged, all-wooden vessel proved too costly to maintain on a year-to-year basis, and Corn Hill Navigation retired it in 2014. Ever since, the nonprofit has sought a way to return to Corn Hill Landing downtown.

VALEOpr was hired to guide CHN and its board of directors through a strategic planning process resulting in a business plan for returning a boat to downtown. Michael – VALEOpr founder and President – facilitated meetings between priority stakeholders and board members that made up the Stakeholder Committee in July; and then used those insights to inform recommendations of bringing a 49-passenger vessel downtown in 2018. The plan was presented at the June CHN Board of Directors meeting. 

A formal business plan was drafted by the VALEOpr team and adopted by CHN in July. VALEOpr is now working with the CHN board to implement the plan, which includes raising $350,000 to secure the new boat and year-one staffing for a vessel on the Genesee River in 2018. 

Visit CHN’s website for Sam Patch tour information that will allow you to experience the engineering marvel of an Erie Canal lock – and to learn how you can support this important campaign to put “Rochester’s Boat” in the water next year.

Firm Founder Keynotes Dinner at Alma Mater

VALEOpr founder and President Michael Mills, a 1996 graduate of Hobart College, recently returned and delivered a keynote address at the Benjamin Hale Dinner which recognizes student outstanding academic achievement and social contributions to the school.

Michael has remained close to the college as an alumnus, serving as Southeast Regional Vice President of the Hobart Alumni Association. That connection increased upon his return to Rochester in 2015, when his wife, Dr. Audrey Roberson, became an Assistant Professor of Education at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.