Interesting in 2009: Jasen VonGuinness

jasen vonguinnessOne of the best things about working on AOA is that we've get the chance to meet a lot of interesting people. We'll be highlighting a handful of them between now and the start of 2010.

One of the most interesting groups to pop up in the Capital Region over the last few years is the Albany Society for the Advancement of Philanthropy. And Jasen VonGuinness is its founder.

ASAP describes itself as "a non-profit organization with the express purpose of encouraging others to do well by their fellow man." It's the org behind events such as Albany Dodgeball, Meatfest and, most notably, the Santa Speedo Sprint. This year's sprint raised more than $13,000 for the Albany Damien Center. (Jess wrote about ASAP last January.)

Jasen said something to us in an email earlier this year that stuck with us: "Overall, I think I'm just sick of all the 'I hate Albany,' 'this town sucks' comments. So I'm trying to do my part to keep it fun."

We emailed JVG a few questions last week and he sent back answers:

What brought you to Albany?

Born and raised next to a tractor dealership in Kinderhook, NY. Ichabod Crane to an anthropology degree from UAlbany, 2000. From there I traveled around the Northeast recruiting staff for Abercrombie and Fitch (ughh).

I've been in the real estate world for about 8 years now, and have been the broker/owner of my own firm greenmark INC for about six. We've got four agents now and a cozy little office up on Lark St.

Aside from traditional brokerage, I've rehabilitated 11 properties of my own. I take loads of pride in being able to buy vacant properties in depressed neighborhoods and bring them back to their original quality, all while increasing the quality of living for the tenants in that area. I'm even more proud of the fact that when I walk thru the LNO (Arbor Hill gang language for the corners of Lark and Orange... you learn these things from working there so much), I'm greeted by old tenants that smile and want to catch up. I feel it's a rarity and departure from how landlords are perceived.

When I ran these rehab projects I always hired unemployed people from the immediate area. I feel very strongly that if I had the people living around my projects working on them, the word would spread as to what I was doing and it would help foster an increased pride in ownership of those areas, and it did. It was also a great way to teach new skills and increase the confidence of these folks. Alas, I've sold almost all my properties to landlords without the same ideals, my years of work dissipated in a few short months of absentee landlord ownership... sad.

Aside from ASAP, I travel and compete with the Albany Irish Rowing Club, active AOH member and I also travel and compete in Scottish Games as well as strongman competitions.

What's the story with the dodgeball?

I started Albany Dodgeball to supplement [ASAP's] scholarship fund. It's been wildly successful and something I'm very proud of.

We're even hoping to put a pro team together to play in Vegas next summer. We're also teaming up with Rob Immel of Hometown Dodgeball in Clifton Park to break the Guinness record for longest game of dodgeball ever played. We're shooting for 30 hours.

What's up for 2010?

We just elected our new board of directors and we've some pretty lofty goals for 2010. We're very content with the amount of events we have, however we can still grow the size of our events and the impact they have. We also have some recruiting goals for 2010. It's no secret that if we surround ourselves with more talented like-minded people we can become even aweseomer.

I personally have two goals I'll be working on in 2010. The first is supporting the ASAP Daisies and doing whatever it takes to get them off the ground successfully. We currently have a group of 13 ladies that I'm very proud of and think they will do awesome things. ASAP will be partnering with them in the late Spring to bring you the first ever Albany Olympics. Events like dizzy bat, egg toss, bag races, wheelbarrow races will be included. We're trying to make it exactly like a 3rd grade field day for adults.

My second goal is to start traveling to NYC more often to set up another chapter there, as well as organize the first ever Speedini Sprint in NYC. I'm confident we do a great job with our event in Albany, but bringing it to a larger audience and pushing the pace is what this is all about.

Albany is my city. I grew up a stones throw from here and no matter how much people bitch about it, I love it and always will. The only guy that probably loves this city more than me is Jerry Jennings. So if I'm going to make my life here, I want it to be as fun as possible and help the people that live here enjoy it. That's the true underlying principle that guides ASAP these days: make Albany as fun as possible and the money and charity will present itself.

Jasen's comments have been lightly edited and condensed.


What a nice guy - it's nice to learn about him.

I can't wait to see what's up with the ASAP Daisies!

Awesome article, but you may want to update the links, ASAP debuted it's new website Monday.

Jasen, congrats!

Editors: links updated. Thanks.

Doing a great Job so glad you are a friend and so involvedd. Keep up the great not good but Great work you do.

Great article! Keep up the good work...You're gonna give Jennings a run for his money in a few years!

I love Jasen. I love him so much I have forgone christian side hugging him for full front to front hugs.

@albany_jane - Let me know if you want to get involved with the Daisies. I'm sure they'd love you, and we can get your hubby into our side of the fold.

Hope everyone is finding their way to our new website at Thanks @bk!

what beautiful man! thumbs up my friend.

Though not officially a member of ASAP, I have spent some time with Jasen and other members as well as attended events such as Dodgeball.

For what its worth these Guys (i'm sure the Daisies are great too) are Amazing. The energy and fun they put into their events is unmatched around Albany. I completely agree with Jasen when he says that he's sick of the Albany Haterz... ASAP does everything it can to provide fun Adult oriented events that really bring the best out in our City...

I wish ASAP (and AOA for that matter) HUGE success in 2010...

Ryan H.

Jasen does a fantastic job, and he can also dodge a wrench.
I feel better I know at least one of the 3 "Interesting in 2009" personalities in Smallbany, though obviously my fingers are crossed for a "Interesting in 2009: Kaitlin Cassidy". Pretty please.

I have known Jasen my entire life and I am very fortunate to be one of his friends. He unselfishly donates his time and energy to better the lives of those around him. I am thrilled that it was brought to the attention of the community,what an interesting and truely unique guy we have supporting us
in Albany. You wont find him looking for the limelight, yet the limelight seems to find him.. and i believe thats the way he would prefer it..........

Congratulations Jay and thanks for all the ASAP talk! Glad to see you are getting some well deserved recognition.

tim booth, I've moved to the back-to-front hugging, because, well, Jasen's worth it.

What a cool dude- Good luck with everything!!!

A giant Thank You to everyone for all the kind words, super appreciated. Reading thru the names of those that posted, its like a who's who of Albany's awesomest people.
I'd like to make 2010 rock out harder than ever in Albany and you're invited to help out. I'll be starting to blog real soon at the ASAP website, so tune in and we'll try to keep everyone informed.....and super entertained.
I owe loads to the folks that have helped me on everything I've touched over the years, they're the ones that get properties and events done, and I appreciate them for it.

Jasen is awesome and this article really shows what he has done and can do. I recently started working for him at his local real estate agency (Greenmark Real Estate) and he's been giving me all the tools and knowledge I need to succeed in the business, all while he helps put together all of these awesome events in Albany. Thanks for all your help and keep up the good work.

Thanks for the introduction to such a positive guy, and a new blog for my Google Reader. Looking forward to seeing who else you dig up in this series!

AWSOME!!! The world needs more people like you Jay! We are so proud to have a friend like you, your an amazing person!

Great article, friend! We're proud of you and everything you've done. Its nice to see you recognized...keep it up!

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine