In my job as Executive Director of the Amherst Business Improvement District, I have had the pleasure to work with a number of exceptional individuals. I thought I would take a few blog posts and shower some of them with compliments. Stephanie O’Keeffe is in her fifth year serving on Amherst’s Select Board, of which she is currently chair.
Just like Dave Ziomek and myself (and even Town Manager John Musante), Stephanie grew up in the Valley, and has a father who’s been very involved in local affairs (John Coull, former Chamber of Commerce director & bicycle shop owner). She has made her mark improving Amherst government’s executive branch (Select Board). Attending those meetings, which she runs, it is a marvel to see her finagle agendas like a jigsaw puzzle to impose efficiency on an otherwise bureaucratic process. And it’s not just behind the scenes that Stephanie excels. She embodies accessibility of public officials by holding weekly “office hours” in the Black Sheep Deli. She listens patiently to those of us with bones to pick, and clearly and articulately points us in the right direction to effect the changes we’re looking for. Her responsibility, her rationality & pragmatism, and her ability to stand tall amid the slings and arrows that target her position, these things make her great. Plus, she’s just started a weekly hula-hoop jam in a park downtown. Anyone in a position of power who injects fun & play into adulthood makes me really, really happy.