At long last, the search is over.
Community Board 8 selected Ciara Gannon as its new district manager May 8, a seven month-long search to replace Michael Heller, who left last year. A Woodlawn native and lifelong Bronx resident, Gannon totes a wealth of government experience in nabbing the $75,000-a-year job.
Gannon has assisted the town administrator in New Castle the past two years, primarily handling administrative services. Before that, she worked as Bronx outreach coordinator at the city’s parks department, and as district representative and constituent services director for state Sen. Jeffrey Klein.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and environmental studies from Siena College, and a master’s of public administration in government from Pace University.
“Obviously, this young woman is very experienced,” CB8 chair Rosemary Ginty said. “Her resume speaks for itself, and we’re all excited to work with her.”
Gannon’s past posts have allowed her to work on a range of issues — from sanitation, to health care, to mortgages, to “anything that had to do with senior citizens,” she said.
“I’m confident that my passion, work ethic and all of my government experience working with different elected officials, and my experience working with the community” will help serve CB8’s neighborhoods, Gannon said. “I’ve always been a community advocate in Woodlawn, and so I think I can do that for Community Board 8.”
While Gannon says experience in New Castle proved invaluable, she wanted to come back to the borough where she calls home.
“I did miss working in the Bronx,” Gannon said. Here, she has a chance to work with “a lot of cultural institutions (and) great parks.”
“I’m excited to get to know this area a little bit more and work with different community groups, different merchants, board members and residents,” she said.
As for her journey to district manager, Gannon said it was word of mouth that nudged her to put in a bid.
“A few people who are outside of Community Board 8 approached me and encouraged me to apply,” Gannon said. CB8’s own three-member search committee — Martin Wolpoff, Diomarys Escano and Dan Padernacht — guided Gannon through what she described as a lengthy but straightforward process.
The committee ultimately received 84 resumes, interviewing a number of finalists, ultimately recommending Gannon for the full board’s consideration.
“They were deliberate, they were careful, and it took them as much time as they needed to come to this conclusion,” Ginty said. “I would not have voted if I did not feel confident in the thorough job that the selection committee did in seeking out and vetting all of the candidates.”
The Gannon vote, however, seemed to have some callbacks from a year ago, when the board was ready to vote on Heller’s hiring. Already barely at a quorum, two members — Amy Joy Robateau and the now late David Kornbluh — left just before the vote to “move their cars.”
There was at least one high-profile departure before the Gannon vote — land use chair Charles Moerdler, who did not return requests for comment. When asked for a breakdown of the votes from the meeting, Ginty first told The Riverdale Press that information wasn’t available because minutes were not finalized. CB8 later told a reporter to submit the request in writing.
“This was the most open selection process ever in the history of Community Board 8,” Ginty said after the meeting.
Gannon faced no opposition during the selection process, she said.
All board members who did vote May 8 — with the exception of Tao Moran, who voted no, and Sergio Villaverde, who abstained — raised their hand in support of Gannon.
Gannon likely will have her hands full jumping into the role at a board that’s lacked a district manager since last October, and now has had four in the last three years.
“The board is best served by having an office that is a well-oiled machine,” said Padernacht, who was board chair when Heller was hired last year. “It’s the district manager who is responsible for making sure the office is operating efficiently and professionally.”
If any tests lie ahead, Gannon’s ready to tackle them head-on.
“Who doesn’t enjoy a good challenge?” Gannon asked. Between now and her June 11 start date, Gannon wants to meet with various board members, committee chairs and elected officials to delve into some of the pressing issues like homelessness, health care, expansion of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale’s Palisade Avenue campus, or finding the board a new home base to conduct meetings and day-to-day business.
“I’m looking forward to working with the board on these different issues, and whatever else comes up,” Gannon said. “Community Board 8 is one of the strongest community boards in the city, and I look forward to continuing that legacy with the hardworking and dedicated board members, and with residents who care, who attend meetings.”