Making A Difference In Broome County
I’ve spent almost my entire life in Broome and I have no regrets staying here to build a rewarding career, surrounded by my family, friends and colleagues.
I grew up and still live in Endicott. I attended Union-Endicott High School before going to SUNY Cortland for both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to work in the nonprofit sector, which is what I pursued in college. After I graduated from Cortland in 1992, I had this idea that I was going to move to the beach to work for a nonprofit. A few weeks after commencement, I got a moving truck with a couple of my college roommates and we moved to Virginia Beach. I was there for about a year before I realized that I wasn’t truly happy – because I wasn’t home. With the exception of only a couple relatives that live a few hours away, my whole family lives in Broome County. I wanted to come back to a place I was familiar with and that I could positively impact in my field.
After I moved back to Broome, I worked as a Case Manager for Catholic Charities before moving on to work in the Chronic Disease Division at the Broome County Health Department and then joined the Broome County Urban League. I was hired in 2006 as the CEO for the League and have been in this position for 12 years. This organization, however, was a part of my life long before that
In my senior year of high school, a lot of kids from all the different high schools used to hang out at the Urban League. The League hosted dances at St. Mary’s, so there were a lot of personal memories made here before I started here professionally.
My professional experience at the Urban League has been challenging, but truly rewarding. Being a female CEO has its obstacles, especially in the nonprofit arena in the last several years. Nonprofits are being asked to do more with much less funding and other resources. Being the CEO is tough because you have to make business decisions, and even though we’re a nonprofit, we have to be able to provide our services to the families and children who depend on us. In my years here, I’ve learned that I’m much stronger than I think I am and that I always want to be learning, which I think makes me a better boss and CEO. I learn new things about myself every day in this position.
One thing that’s been consistent since the day I started though is my desire to leave the Broome County Urban League better than I found it, which I know is impossible without the right community partners. We’re really lucky in this area. Throughout my career at the Health Department, and in my position now, I’ve realized and seen firsthand that Broome County has a truly wonderful, collaborative nature.
You really can’t achieve anything without partnerships. We have for-profit partners and collaborate with other nonprofits and corporate entities. Our relationships with Binghamton University and SUNY Broome are paramount to some of the programs we offer. Our college interns constantly volunteer in our food pantry, help out at our youth programs and do much more each day.
Those partnerships are instrumental in moving us forward and I don’t know if we would be as successful as we are without our community partners and the overall collaborative nature in Broome. These partnerships have allowed me to meet some incredible people and make both personal and professional connections that I don’t think I would have if I wasn’t here or in this position.
Some of my colleagues have become my close friends over the years and I’ve built a larger social network with people that I’ve met through the League, as well as working with other organizations. That’s been another great part of my work job in Broome County.
There’s just something about working and living in Broome. It’s allowed me to create a fulfilling career in the field I’ve always wanted to be in, surrounded by family, friends and the strong connections I’ve made along the way. Broome County, to me, is a diamond in the rough. There’s so many great things going on, but there’s so much more to come, especially in terms of downtown development projects in the works, or businesses coming here.
We’re really in a fantastic location where there’s a growing arts culture and music scene, that’s close to bigger cities like Syracuse, Ithaca and New York, but offers a lower cost of living. If you want to live downtown here, you can have that downtown living experience, but you can also have your rural house in the country if you want that.
There’s a truly warm sense of community in Broome, as well as a great sense of culture. I grew up on the Northside, so we had Little Italy only a few minutes walk or drive from our house.
My grandmother has always said to me, “Find something you love to do – and it’s even better if you can get paid to do it.” As difficult and challenging as my job can be sometimes, I wake up loving what I do because I’m so inspired by the youth and the people that we serve in Broome County.I get so energized by my staff, and am so fortunate for them, because they’re on the front lines and really help make everything happen.
I know, truly, that the Urban League is making a difference in Broome County each day. I’m really proud of that, and happy about the choice that I made to come back and stay here.