Mayor-elect Andre Rainey announced Friday the appointment of a volunteer transition team to work with the city manager and department heads to ensure the new administration can hit the ground running on Jan. 1. The transition team’s primary purpose will be to meet with department heads and city staff to assess operations, identify existing challenges that departments are facing and learn from professional staff where they see their department priorities in the coming years. The transition team consists of 13 initial members, chaired by current Common Council members Kathie Talbot and Vivian McKenzie.
“My number one goal over the next six weeks is to have as much information as possible from the professional staff and a clear assessment from experts on the state of the city so that we can hit the ground running on January 1,” said Rainey. “I am grateful for the assistance Mayor Catalina has given me over the last two weeks as we begin this transition. The team I have selected has a wide range of experience in business, finance, development, public safety, management, community relations, recreation and youth services. They also represent the true diversity of Peekskill, which is critical if we want a city that reflects everyone. I look forward to working with this team over these next six weeks to get ready for day one.”
The transition team consists of 13 individuals and covers 10 broad policy areas, including:
• City Finance
• Public Safety
• Economic Development
• Youth Services
• Parks, Recreation and Open Space
• Senior Services
• DPW and City Services
• Buildings and Code Enforcement
• Boards, Commissions and Hiring
Transition appointees of the various policy and operations areas will expand their reviews and policy and operations areas if necessary. Rainey noted the team may expand as the transition gets more fully underway.
Council members Kathie Talbot and Vivian McKenzie, the two incumbent members on the Peekskill Common Council, will lead the transition team, ensuring continuity and providing guidance to the full transition team. A full list of members of the transition team and their professional backgrounds can be found below:
• Councilwoman Kathie Talbot and Councilwoman Vivian McKenzie, Transition Co-Chairs
• Jeff Tracey, City Finance
Jeff Tracey has worked in consumer product management for 15 years and over the last three has been a partner at Ping Supply Chain Solutions, managing overseas supply chains, quality control and logistics for small and medium-sized US companies. The firm has offices in Dongguan, China, Hong Kong and Peekskill. He has lived in Peekskill since 2008, and is renovating an historic home a few blocks from the high school.
Dr. Charles R. Jennings, Public Safety
Charles Jennings, PhD, is a fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers and associate professor of security, fire and emergency management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He is also the director of the Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies at the college, and was former deputy commissioner of Public Safety for the City of White Plains. He lives in the Fort Hill neighborhood of Peekskill with his family, and is a member of the Peekskill Industrial Development Agency.
Monica Flaherty, Economic Development
Monica Flaherty is the founder and president of The Flatz Properties, a real estate development firm focused on historic properties. Concurrent to her real estate work, Monica consults to large non-profits and Fortune 500 companies managing cross-functional teams, developing business plans that aim for transformational change and driving projects to success. Monica graduated from Harvard College in 1992 with a degree in government. She served as the vice president of the Peekskill Business Improvement District from 2015 to 2016, and is active in the community.
Tuesday McDonald, Youth Services
Tuesday Paige McDonald is the director of Community & Youth Development for Hudson River HealthCare, responsible for the program development and management of a multitude of service and health-related youth programs and events. She has over 25 years of work and service experience, including 15 years on the Peekskill Board of Education. Tuesday has deep roots in the interfaith community, coordinating and directing community and musical productions involving Peekskill youth. She is a licensed minister at the historic Mount Olivet Baptist Church, where she serves as minister of worship. She also serves as Youth Sunday School facilitator and the director of Youth Ministry. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from PACE University, a bachelor of arts in political science from SUNY Old Westbury and a mentoring supervisor certificate from Fordham University Graduate School of Service. A lifelong Peekskill resident, Tuesday lives in Hillcrest Park with her family.
Andrew Torres, Parks, Recreation and Open Space
Andrew Torres served six years on the Peekskill Common Council and has served on the Peekskill Parks Advisory Board since 2014, chairing the board in 2016. He holds a master’s degree in community economic development and a bachelor in business administration and marketing. He currently works for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York in their HIV health plan department as a provider relations representative. Prior to that he worked at NYP Columbia as a manager in their HIV clinic. Andy lives with his wife and children on Prospect Terrace.
Karen Kelley, Senior Services
Karen Kelley has over 30 years of experience working in the public health and health care delivery fields in management, policy development, advocacy and outreach, serving in both public and private sectors in San Francisco, Baltimore, New York City and Westchester County. She received her public health credential from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She is a member of the Peekskill Education Foundation Board of Directors and has also served on the Vestry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Kisco, where she chaired the Outreach Committee, implementing the outreach missions of the Church. Karen lives in Chapel Hill.
Cynthia Knox, Legal
Cynthia B. Knox. Esq., is an attorney with over 20 years experience in nonprofit legal and social services. Cynthia is the executive director of Caring for the Hungry and Homeless of Peekskill (CHOP) which operates a residential homeless shelter, a residential program for homeless veterans, permanent housing for survivors of domestic violence and homeless veterans, and Fred’s Pantry, a choice food pantry, in partnership with St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Cynthia and her spouse, Carla Rae Johnson, have been proud members of the Peekskill community since 1992 and live in the Fort Hill neighborhood.
Joseph Schuder, DPW and City Services
Joe Schuder served for four years on the Peekskill Common Council, working on the development of the waterfront, tourism, and in partnership with Scenic Hudson to create Peekskill Landing. He was the Council’s liaison to the school district and assisted in gaining approval and funding for the after school L.E.A.P program. He was also Council liaison to the Youth Bureau and assisted in the creation of the Hudson Valley Boatworks Project. He has over 40 years of corporate business experience in the high-tech industry, working with diverse market segments in North America and overseas. He was in progressive management positions, reaching the executive level, with P&L responsibility. Joe currently serves on the city’s Human Relation’s Commission and lives in Chapel Hill with his wife.
Wilmer Villa, Buildings and Code Enforcement
Wilmer (Patricio) Villa, graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology, holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering and currently works as a Project Engineer for a consulting Engineering firm in Midtown Manhattan. His experience consists of inspecting and analyzing high-rise buildings to comply with the New York City building code specifications. An Ecuadorian-American who grew up in Sleepy Hollow, he settled with his wife, Rosita, in Peekskill to raise their two-year-old, Victoria, and 11-month-old, Valentina. They live on Simpson Place in the Westside Neighborhood of Peekskill with their dog, Cesar.
Gary Kellawon, Boards, Commissions and Hiring
Gary B. Kellawon, graduated from Lehman College, holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and currently works as a Project Manager for a multimedia production company. Born in Jamaica, W.I., Gary migrated in 1978 to the Bronx. He moved to Peekskill in 2002 and in 2015 was elected as the 1st vice president of the Peekskill NAACP chapter. There he is co-chair of the Peekskill NAACP Civic Engagement Committee. He lives in Forest View with his wife, Lisa, and their daughter, Kennedy.
Jessica Nevins, Community Outreach
Jessica Nevins worked as an Investigator for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. As a senior project manager for Compustall Services, Inc., she managed computer technician crews servicing corporate clients throughout the New York metro area. She has experience in the solar power industry from her time as a Project Manager with American Solar Partners in Mount Vernon.
Editor’s Note: This information was provided by Allyson Curtis, owner of 7 of Seven Creative Communications.