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Boyle Embarks Upon New Chapter With No Regrets, Boatload of Fond Partnership Recollections

8 May 2023 12:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By Steve Dwyer 

This is a narrative about a professional life well lived. About steadfast—and effective—service to two not-for-profit brownfield entities. 

Susan Boyle is retiring, doing it “cold turkey-style,” resting comfortably so that as she passes the batons, “all the pieces are in place” for brighter futures. 

Sue, first and foremost, is retiring from her “day job” as an environmental remediation leader at GEI Consultants Inc. But that retirement has a domino effect, as she’s also stepping aside from her dual roles as contracted executive director of the New York City Brownfield Partnership and Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE). 

These affiliations lasted longer than Sue had originally anticipated. After working 27 years on the public side of the environmental remediation sector with the New Jersey Hazardous Waste Facilities Siting Commission and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), Sue entered the private sector in 2008 when she joined GEI Consultants. 

Summing up the career ride, Sue told me that she’s tinged with a “bittersweet sentiment because I love running organizations. But there are other things in life,” that Sue can’t wait to start pursuing.

“I plan to go ‘cold turkey’ and totally step away for at least six months. I can’t wait to not have to set an alarm clock—and I’m thrilled about the idea of drinking a cup of coffee before it gets cold!” 

Read ahead for a recent conversation with Sue on the past, present and future. 

Q: Take us back to the beginning and your recollection of joining the Partnership?

SB: I was not around when the Partnership started in 2006—I came on board in 2008, and applied to become a board member. As I became involved, it became clear to me that the Partnership some contracted staff—it had originally been operated by New York City’s Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) staff.  That was a lot to take on and effectively deliver on expectations to support and grow the organization. We had the Big Apple Brownfield Awards (BABAs) and Brownfield Scholarship Program to plan and execute. No doubt, they needed external help, so I talked to the Partnership Board about hiring me an executive director. It was a very part-time role, but one that was necessary for the organization. On the BCONE front, I helped shape the mission, bylaws, policies and procedure—I had a voice in that from the outset, whereas the Partnership had already established that. Regarding both organizations, it was important to implement such polices as board term limits so we could hear form new professionals, and give them a seat at the table. Former Board Member, Mary Manto of Tenen Environmental was the champion of that effort for the Partnership.

Q: What was the early reception of non-for-profit brownfields organizations among brownfield professionals in the region? 

SB: I think it was well received. The bylaws that were promulgated by The Partnership [and BCONE] were clear and had a solid vision. One thing we were eager to have was a blending of both public and private professionals involved, to establish an eclectic balance across all professional capacities—this would include environmental consultants, attorneys, environmental insurance, lenders, architects, and others. It’s been an ongoing mission—and challenge—to engage with and bring in some of these professional capacities to a greater degree outside of the core consultant and environmental attorney world. The Partnership [and BCONE] has made great strides along these lines. 

Q: At the outset of your affiliations with the Partnership, and even into 2023, what are some areas you’d like to see improved upon? 

SB: One of the frustrations I’ve always cited is that we offered excellent pro bono services to both public and private sectors—it was very frustrating that more organizations  didn’t take advantage of those services. It was a question of, how do we reach them in the first place? 

At BCONE, what has been challenging is getting information out—spreading the word—about successful redevelopment projects that go live. We have so many environmental consultants  who are involved on the front end of a project cycle, but unfortunately many are long gone by the time redevelopments  go live. We want to shine a light on so many of the success stories, but need a better mechanism to do so. At the Partnership, the BABAs serve as a great vehicle to help shine a light on the ‘success stories.’ With BCONE, one vital stride that needs to occur is growing membership rolls—I think it’s experienced slower growth than we had anticipated. BCONE has such a large geographic footprint that the question is ‘how can we offer services to states from  Maine to Maryland ? And, both organizations have long been environmental consultant-heavy in representation, so we’ve always strived to branch out to be more inclusive. 

Q: What are some of the professional aspects about new Partnership executive director Laura Senkevitch that allows you to step way confident about the future—and also as it relates to BCONE executive director Anne Lazo?

SB: They both know their respective organizations very well. Take Laura: she knows so much about taking non-profits forward, having held leadership roles in both fundraising and program development at Human Rights First and Fortune Society. She has significant experience across such areas as donor cultivation, program development, strategic partnership management, non-profit board governance, and more. She’ll work extremely well with the Partnership leadership team of [President] Ezgi [Karayel], [Vice President] George [Duke], [Treasurer] Michele [Rogers] and [Secretary] MariCate [Conlon]. She knows and understands the board, having served as a board member. Laura is also an excellent networker. Anne Lazo has been BCONE’s webmaster for quite a while, and has literally read every word about BCONE—she’s probably the only person besides me who has. Anne knows the group and knows the people. She is incredibly knowledgeable about the BCONE organization. She also has many years of experience consulting with businesses and non-profit organizations. I’m also very heartened that both BCONE and the Partnership have hired administrative assistants in Michele Hurley [BCONE] and Marianne Leone [Partnership]. I think we have grown the professional services area to where you have the right mix of staff—and that all the piece are in place.

Q: What do you plan to do with all this newfound free time on your hands? 

SB: I plan to go ‘cold turkey’ and totally step away for at least six months from Partnership activities. I can’t wait to not have to set an alarm clock anymore—and I’m thrilled about the idea of drinking a cup of coffee before it gets cold! 

Posted May 8, 2023

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