I’ve always been an artist. I must have been clawing in-utero paintings into the rosy walls of my mother’s womb. Now, I’m ready to give in totally to my creative inclinations.
These impulses have presented in every decade of my life in ways that are as unique as those times and fashions, and my experiences radically changed just about every ten years.
The college I attended taught strict, classical realism in a manor similar to Andrew Wyeth, a internationally recognized, regional superstar. I never quite nailed that, though I learned to look deeply at objects to understand the play of light that defines a textured surface. What I did discover was an affinity for line, the female form, atmospheric backgrounds and collage.
In my late 20’s and early-30’s, I was busy creating a family of four. I married, bought a house, had two children and freelanced as a graphic artist around the Albany area. I did occasional editorial illustrations for magazines and produced advertising materials the old school way, with a rapidograph and t-square. I became a vivid PTA parent, hosting community events, classroom art classes, planting gardens, and growing a network of similarly situated friends in Amsterdam.
I was invited by a fellow parent to become involved in a tiny school museum board. I eventually ended up Director of the little treasure trove (20,000 eclectic and amusing objects that had been hidden away in an attic) and spent seven of the happiest years of my life there. Every day, I’d stumble on a quirky discovery more fascinating than the day before. I curated temporary and new, permanent exhibits, threw countless fundrasiers and reformed operations in order to be chartered as an independent entity of the school district, which we did.
It was a colorful and richly rewarding time, which foreshadowed a decade of having just enough power to create impactful change in my city.
At forty, I became involved with a waterfront revitalization project that I would end up inheriting for almost twenty years in a way that is personal and binding, building a new cityscape and park on the water, crowned with an undulating garden-bridge connecting the north and south shores. I also decided to run for office and won the top seat in city government.
As Mayor, I initiated countless beautification and public art projects, cultural events, historic preservation efforts, and promoted revitalization endeavors that are still coming to fruition today. Some, like the restoration of City Hall and the wonderful mosaic on the East End are lasting and important to the heritage of our community. Others, like the mediatation labyrinth at City Hall or certain murals and paintings have been removed or painted over. Never no mind. Beauty is transient.
Many nights, to keep my sanity, I’d bead necklace and earring sets, embellish shells, or burn elaborate designs into wood. Art has kept me grounded in the wildest of tempests.
I’m now well into another phase of my life; one that is more reflective but just as chaotic as any time before, even my teenage years. Two years ago, while cleaning out my attic, I found the portfolio of my college work and awoke a keen desire to revel in that voice that I echoed from so long ago.
My greatest pleasure these days is in this, the discovery that happens every time I work through another project. I am eager to share this journey with others.
MAYOR: CITY OF AMSTERDAM
CEO: strategic planning, municipal governance, financial and labor management, problem solving, volunteer engagement, marketing, networking, writing, public speaking
- $30 million dollars in stimulus funding and grants for Water Filtration and Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrades, bus purchases, road reconstruction, infrastructure improvements, neighborhood revitalization, waterfront and downtown development, residential rehabilitation, marketing, planning and recreational opportunities.
- Renegotiated sales tax distribution agreement with Montgomery County ensures $500,000 or more in additional dollars to the annual city budget.
- Renegotiated long-term water distribution agreements with the Towns of Amsterdam and Florida that will continue to generate additional revenues as the economy improves.
- Negotiated new agreement with the Greater Amsterdam Volunteer Ambulance Corps, brought close to $200,000 per year to the city budget.
- Upgraded bond rating (A3) allowed the city to borrow for capital projects and equipment at a more favorable interest rate.
Because of the efforts of my administration, city property taxes only increased on average 1.3% per year over an eight-year period and user fees only increased on average by 1.4% per year. We avoided a 35% increase in taxes over eight years.
- Controlled overtime costs by stopping discretionary overtime.
- Required detailed reporting of time worked, vehicle usage, breaks & time off.
- Unprecedented Corrective action taken when employee performance was deficient.
- All permanent positions advertised in contrast to nepotism of prior administrations.
- Instituted Tracking of operational concerns: code enforcement, property maintenance, absentee landlords, grants management, fire hydrant monitoring.
- Well over 100 deficient hydrants replaced (only six of over 1,000 out-of-service at the end of my term) as well as damaged valves, water mains and laterals.
- Strategic action plan implemented for targeted water, sewer and fire prevention system improvements. Over $4M of systematic replacements in all sectors of the city.
- Our drinking water is of the finest quality in our state because of $10M in upgrades to our Water Filtration Plant.
- $3M Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements completed.
- Dispatching & tracking software in place for fire & emergency response, as well as code enforcement departmental operations.
- Demolition of over 90 dilapidated and dangerous structures completed; fifteen more funded and planned at close of term
- Laborers trained to protect residents and employees in confined space rescue and workplace violence prevention.
COMMUNITY STRENGTH AND PRIDE
- In partnership with the Greater Amsterdam School District, St. Mary’s Healthcare, Centro Civico, and countless volunteers, the city launched two new recreational community centers, one focused on athletics and one on the arts, to meet the needs of our youth, families and seniors.
- Neighborhood Associations succeeded in crime prevention and beautification of our city, hosting “meet & greets”, National Night Out, the East End Attack, the Main Street Winter Mixer and the “Windows on Main Street” program. Our Spring Fling hosts 5,000 visitors a year at no cost to taxpayers!
- 24+ TONS of litter picked upby volunteers at annual Spring and Fall clean-ups.
- Graffiti painted out; Paint Bank started.
- Citizens’ Police Academies regularly offered to familiarize residents with the work of our APD and to better our neighborhood watch efforts.
- Public Art Projects featured the work of local artists all over the city.
- City Hall public spaces, offices, windows, closets, outbuildings & grounds revamped on a shoestring budget. We also remediated asbestos in the basement identified in 2001. We replaced the boiler, roof and electrical systems, and had received funding to make improvements identified in historic assessment and strategic plan conducted by my administration..
- Enhanced parks & recreational space Personally involved in waterfront revitalization for 17 years. Riverlink Park Phase II expansion completed; Phase III coming to fruition. Veterans Park sports a new veteran’s memorial, revamped pool facility and softball field. Shuttleworth Park has additional seating, decks space, parking, dam, skating area with warming hut, and a new walking path. Ice skating offered again at City Hall and the Lincoln Av Playground, and a new fountain has been placed at the West End Veteran’s Memorial.
- Beautiful flower baskets, banners and new Christmas decorations greet residents and those traveling through the city.
- 13,000 flower bulbs, new plantings and new signage embellish every entranceway and main corridor in the city.
- ESD Award “Best in Class” Statewide: website and printed promotional materials tout our beauty, location, close community, success stories and specific opportunities to foster economic growth.
- “Small city. Big heart.” tag line brands our identity. Collateral material includes our new logo, letterhead, business cards, brochures, pens, pins, magnets, and advertisements.
- On-line video series featured on our City of Amsterdam, NY Official Website – some produced professionally at no cost to taxpayers and some through collaboration with students from Amsterdam High School. These efforts and community updates are displayed on our city Facebook pages too.
- WMHT “Our Town: Amsterdam” produced with contributions from residents.
REVITALIZATION THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS
- Established closer relationships with the AIDA, URA, GASD, FMCC, Workforce Solutions, Chamber, not-for-profit agencies, surrounding municipalities, counties, the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, and state.
- Founding member of the Land Reutilization Corporation of the Capital Region, a collaboration between the City and County of Schenectady and the City of Amsterdam, to help local communities deal with problems stemming from vacant, abandoned and underutilized properties.
- Instituted partnership with the Center for Technology and Growth and the Cities of Amsterdam, Schenectady, Troy and Gloversville, which are developing a code enforcement module to share property ownership and condition information globally.
DIRECTOR: WALTER ELWOOD MUSEUM
- daily operations, staff, and volunteers
- grant writing, fund raising, development
- strategic planning
- board development and relations
- exhibition planning and implementation
- hiring of consultants
- promotion and networking
- collections care
- special event coordination
Personally drafted its mission, vision, policies and procedures, shepherded its chartering under NYSED and the birth of the organization as an independent 501c3. Launched temporary / permanent exhibits, started the gift shop, and instituted professional collections care and storage. Raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and donations, networked with other professionals in the field, and hosted countless community events and classes.
We were recognized by NYSCA as an institution that other small museums should look to for organizational modeling.
FREELANCE GRAPHIC ARTIST and WRITER
- advertising design and production, from initial concepts through final mechanicals
- art direction of photographers, illustrators, production assistants, copywriters and multi-media producers
- supervision of the printing process
- advertisements, flyers, brochures, newsletters, radio spots, etc.
- blogs (wildthane.wordpress.com) (mayorthane.com)
- social media
- over 60 grants and proposals that had been accepted and implemented
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
- 2006 Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Award Nominee
- 2005 Upstate History Alliance 2006 Award of Merit Nominee
- 2005 Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Year Award Nominee
- 2005 Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Award Nominee
- 2004 Montgomery County Democratic Star Award
MEMBERSHIPS AND APPOINTMENTS
- 1999-2007, 2015-present Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation Executive Board
- 2015 Governor’s Mohawk Valley Capital for a Day Economic Development Working Group
- 2012-present Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Commissioner
- 2011-2016 Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council Executive Board
- 2010-present BPO Elks Lodge No. 101 Member
- 2010-2016 Amsterdam Homeless Project Founding Member
- 2009-2016 NY Conference of Mayors Executive Board, President 2014-15
- 2009-2016 NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner
- 2009-2012 Montgomery County NY Habitat for Humanity Executive Board
- 2009-2012 Montgomery County NY Suicide Prevention Task Force Founding Member
- 2007 Montgomery County Tourism Strategic Planning Committee 2007 Chairperson
- 2006-2008 Montgomery County Occupancy Tax Advisory Board 2007 Chairperson
- 2003-2005 Montgomery County Democratic Committee Amsterdam Third Ward Representative
- 2002-2008 Mohawk Valley Museum Consortium Member
- 2000-2006 Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation Member, President
- 2000-2005 McNulty Compact Team Central Compact Rep
- 2000-2001 Mohawk Valley Heritage Association Board Member
- 1998-99 Bacon Elementary PTA President Compact Team Member
- 1998, 2000 Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Seminar Participant
- Director, Local Government Services, Department of State, Albany, NY 2016 – present
- MayorCity of Amsterdam, NY January 2008 – Present CEO for municipality; $29M budget; 200+ employees
- Director Walter Elwood Museum 2001 – 2007
- Freelance Graphic Artist home in Amsterdam, NY 1988 – 2001
- Assistant Art Director, Studio Manager Partners Meany, Inc., Albany, NY 1990 – 1992
- Art Director PK Associates, HoHoKus, NJ 1983 – 1988
- Art Director Advertising Services, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 1983 – 1988
- Art DirectorThe Ridgewood News, Ridgewood, NJ 1982 – 1983
University of Delaware: Fine Arts, Art History 1976 – 1981
- Husband – Peter (like we were born married)
- Son – Ian (26 yrs)
- Daughter – Sarah (23 yrs)
- Black and White Stray Cat, now enthroned on the couch in my living room – Kitty Cow (? yrs)