In response to two letters to the editor written by Leon Korobow on Nov. 22 and Dec. 2, I would like to take this time to highlight how my experience makes me highly qualified for the position of commissioner.
My master’s in education, with an advanced degree in educational leadership, qualifies me for a position as a school principal should I pursue such a career course. As a director of two guidance departments in Arizona and Albany, I wrote a k-12 counselling curriculum, managed budgets, oversaw staff including hiring and employee evaluations and conducted needs assessments which led to long-term improvement plans. Additionally, I designed and implemented a professional development program for teachers and counselors, which better prepared my staff to meet the challenges that schools face daily. This was all while supporting the social and emotional well-being of my students.
As an administrative intern for the Great Neck Public Schools I participated in the budget process, school safety procedures, coordinated AP testing for South High School and assisted in the development of the master schedule for the school. More importantly, I learned how to be an effective leader from an accomplished team of administrators.
From 2008-12, I managed one of the largest skate schools in the county, housed in our own Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink. There I supervised 30 coaches, hired, evaluated and trained them. In my effort to develop an enduring program, I created a junior instructor mentorship program. There were upwards of 1400 skaters enrolled (not including hockey) and we were awarded for having one of the top skate schools in the nation. Sadly, many of the thriving programs have since been cut. As the Skate School director, I had oversight of the budget, payroll and, with the facility manager, created the master schedule. I also completed rink management trainings, attended relevant seminars and earned certifications, all of which made me a better manager and leader.
You may ask, “how is this pertinent to being a commissioner?” The management and leadership skills I acquired while running the skate school were invaluable. The experiences gave me an in-depth perspective on how the parks are run as a whole. I have worked closely with each superintendent and deputy superintendent, and even spent a summer working at the pool, helping manage the summer recreation center.
And Leon, you say that my husband’s employment in the parks is a conflict? Well, to that, I say it is not only not a conflict but, it is in fact an asset. Through my marriage to Scott, I have gained in-depth knowledge of how our parks are run and maintained. I have knowledge of work orders and purchasing systems and the daily roles and responsibilities of the maintainers and supervisors. I understand the areas in which we can improve efficiency. I know the history of the parks, and even know how to prep the tennis courts and fields on an early Saturday morning. And I know the marina well.
Scott has worked for the parks since he was 16 years old, as a rink guard, lifeguard, maintainer and now a union supervisor. He is content with his position and knows he will be held to the highest standards; he will need to be on the top of his game at all times. And to say that I have shown no interest, well that is simply unfair. Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about the park district. Scott was raised in the parks, my children will be raised in the parks and my 13 years teaching in the Skate School and four years as the Skate School director have been some of the most pivotal and valuable experiences in my career. I know the joy the Park District brings to our community and the immeasurable value it has to the individuals and families of Great Neck.
If this is not enough to convince you, there are other aspects of my leadership and recreation experience worthy of mention. I served as program coordinator for the Anti-Rape Task Force at SUNY Buffalo, as a Graduate School of Education graduate assistant and as an employee of the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid. And lastly, I grew up in the Mecca of parks, the Adirondack Park.
Now I ask you, what experience does my opponent have? He has experience in law enforcement and a few years of coaching. I respect that he served as a police officer, which is certainly not an easy role to take on. But in recreation and management? He had little to no experience before his term commenced. I have repeatedly requested a debate with Mr. Cilluffo to highlight these differences, but he completely ignores all requests. I encourage you to ask questions and learn more about me. I urge you to get out and vote on Dec. 10 for someone who is a leader with integrity, who values every community member’s needs—not just the needs of a few—and who has a lifetime of experience in leadership, parks and recreation.