Dear Lewis County business community;
I am incredibly humbled and honored to have the opportunity to advance and lead Lewis County Economic Development and Naturally Lewis, as the newly appointed Executive Director in 2020. I assume this new role following in the footsteps of our previous leader, Eric Virkler, as he has taken on a new position, continuing to serve our communities as the Lewis County Treasurer. I owe much of my success to Eric, as he has supported and encouraged me throughout my career, thus far.
I am a born and raised Lewis County native, and an alumnus of Lowville Academy & Central School (Go Raiders!). I graduated from SUNY Potsdam with a Bachelors in Sociology & Psychology, and a Masters in Organizational Performance, Leadership & Technology (Go Bears!). I spent a short stint living in Colorado, but for the most part, I have called the North Country my home for my entire life.
I simply love Lewis County and the North Country. We truly live in one of the most beautiful and community-driven places, thanks to the people that live, work and build business here. Lewis County people are truly like no other; helpful, empathetic, neighborly, thoughtful, hard-working, dedicated, resilient. And this is why I do what I do.
Some of you may have known me as the former Marketing & Communications Specialist for our organizations brand, Naturally Lewis, promoting Lewis County as a great place to live, work, build business and play. What appealed to me the most about the opportunity to lead Lewis County Economic Development was the progress that had already been made within our organization, and the excitement, vision and strategies to come. I am a visionary, a big-picture thinker, and realize the amazing assets that we have, and by putting the right people and tools in the right places, we can sustain and grow Lewis County, now, and for future generations.
As January of 2020 hit, and being named the Interim Director at that time, I was excited for a number of things - a new year, a new decade, a new chapter for Lewis County Economic Development, a new strategic planning process, new projects, new initiatives – but we quickly found out that life and business, as we knew it, would change in the blink of an eye, as the COVID-19 pandemic quickly took its course. I soon realized, that there has never been a more vital and important time to take on this role, representing and supporting the business community in Lewis County.
COVID-19 has proven to be a stressful, challenging and an unprecedented time for families, businesses, and communities, globally. We have truly been tested and will continue to be tested into the future. But, if I know the people of Lewis County as well as I think I do, they will do whatever it takes to move us forward. I have seen some incredible shifts in operating and thinking among our business community; COVID-19 forced us to collaborate, work together, think creatively, and strategize for the future. One thing is for sure, we are a resilient community, and we will get through this together.
Looking towards the future, Lewis County Economic Development’s role is to foster relationships and develop our businesses and communities. My plan is to take that a few steps further; through inspiration, collaboration, partnerships, education, thoughtful risk taking, leadership, creating a solid team, creating opportunities, providing resources, and so much more, we will work for you, our businesses and communities, to make Lewis County the best it can possibly be. We are working to ‘Reboot Lewis County’ through COVID-19, and as our businesses and communities fight through this, we will come out stronger than ever.
I have never been prouder to be a part of this community and to serve you all during this time. As COVID-19 has put social distancing policies in place, I cannot wait until the day that I can escape the confines of my office to get out there to see you, meet you, and assist you in any way we can. This community continues to inspire me, and hopefully we can do the same to inspire our communities to be the best they can be.
Family: Jon, 32, Husband
Favorite thing to do outside of work: If I am not at my office, you can more than likely find me at the pool; coaching school-aged swimmers how to be great athletes and competitive swimmers, or leading a water aerobics class for seniors in our community. I was a swimmer in college, coached a collegiate team, and have coached a USA Swimming Team, the Turbine Swim Club, for 5 years.
What is your favorite part about working for LC Economic Development/IDA?: My number one career goal since I was in high school was, 'No matter what job or career I am in, I hope I am making an impact on the community I live in.' I love being involved in the community, meeting and creating relationships with business owners, community leaders, state leaders, and beyond! This organization allows us to get creative, be flexible, all while having a great impact on the community.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role? If when all is said and done, and I can look back at my career in economic development, I hope that I can say that I led to the best of my ability, I inspired people to do bigger and better things, I created a team of leaders and allowed them to take their skillsets to the next level, and created a solid foundation that led to the growth of Lewis County. Learning and growing are key - if we are not learning, we are not growing, and I will continue to learn from my colleagues, peers and experts in the industry for years to come.