Marie Carmody-LaFrancesca, Director of Constituent Services and Capital BudgetThroughout Staten Island’s history, women have played an integral part in the economic success of the borough.
Their work spanning from corporate duties to careers in the non-profit sector – each professional has been a powerful part of the Staten Island workforce, making vast contributions to the city’s future over the past several decades.
So this month, as State Island Business Trends focuses on influential women in business, celebrating their contributions to our economic landscape, we’ve chosen to highlight the borough’s highest office, which features a diverse staff, more than half of which is comprised of women.
“I have been blessed all of my career to have been surrounded by strong, smart, inspiring, and effective women. Whether it was Christine Quinn, Melinda Katz, Gale Brewer, Diane Savino, or so many others, I have learned from them and they have made me not only a better public official, but a better human being,” declared Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo when asked about the importance of his female staff. “I am particularly proud of the team we have assembled at Borough Hall. We have a fantastic representation of Staten Islanders across all generations who work well together and learn from each other every day. The women on my team are intelligent, creative, detail-oriented, and enthusiastic. I am grateful for the chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with these wonderful people as we fight the good fight day in and day out.”
These are a few of the integral players.
Carmody-LaFrancesca, who has worked in government for 27 years, holds a BA and MA from the College of Staten Island. Prior to her appointment with the Borough President’s Office, she served as director of constituent services and budget director for then Councilman James Oddo from 1998 to 2013. She’s a member of the Richmond County Republican Committee and a member of the St. Peter’s Boys High School Family Association. She lives in New Dorp with her husband and son.
“I have worked in government for over 27 years,” Carmody-LaFrancesca said. “I started as a college intern for former Council Member John Fusco who took a chance on me. I enjoy working for the Staten Island Borough President because I find it rewarding to oversee a project that starts out as an idea and to guide it through each step of the process until it becomes a reality. There is nothing more gratifying than working with our schools on a project and watching the joy of the students when they finally get to use their new playground or gymnasium. It is also gratifying to help our constituents resolve various problems including getting their streets resurfaced, helping with high water bills or seeing a sewer project completed after many years of planning and construction.”
Sammartino has been with the Office of the Borough President since January 2014. A graduate of the College of Staten Island, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and spent most of her career in communications – first as a reporter, then as a features editor with the Staten Island Advance; as communications director for Richmond University Medical Center; then as public affairs officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
She joined the BP’s staff as director of communications and external affairs, a post she held until the BP appointed her the first-ever director of tourism and cultural affairs in 2017. Jennifer has taken on the role of Deputy Chief of Staff, overseeing a division of the office and working on high level projects. She enjoys travelling, the outdoors, movies and reading. She lives in New Brighton with her husband, Michael Mallen, and daughter, Laila.
“I have been so fortunate to have worked alongside Borough President Oddo and Chief of Staff Jason Razefsky for the last six years,” Sammartino revealed. “The opportunities afforded to me during this time have been incredibly gratifying and I’m so happy to be doing such important work that directly impacts my home community.”
Angela Shand is a Certified Public Procurement Officer (CPPO) and a Certified Public Procurement Buyer (CPPB) and has worked at the Borough President’s Office with previous administrations and the current administration for a total of 18 years. She has extensive knowledge and experience in government procurement, accounting and economics.
Before working at the Borough President’s office, Shand worked in commercial and residential real estate and at an electrical contracting company where she managed the company’s accounting and procurement of materials for multiple contracts.
In the early 2000s Shand decided to leave the private sector to pursue a career in government that began at the City’s Financial Information Service Agency where she worked temporarily for a short while before working at Staten Island Borough President’s Office.
Shand holds a master’s degree in Global Affairs, Environment/Energy Policy and a bachelor’s degree in economics from New York University.
“I really appreciate Borough President Oddo’s continued effort to buoy and encourage employees to improve and advance in their careers,” Shand said. “Additionally, due to BP Oddo’s dedication to the Staten Island community, working for Oddo has given me the unique opportunity to be a part of the team that is helping to make Staten Island an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Colleen Siuzdak is a native Staten Islander who earned her bachelor’s degree in Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is now pursuing a Masters of Public Administration at CUNY Baruch College. She joined the Borough President’s team in August 2017 as the coordinator of Tourism and Cultural Affairs but since has been promoted to the manager of Visit Staten Island, a campaign focused on promoting Staten Island’s cultural offerings.
Siuzdak looks forward to growing the arts and culture community on Staten Island by exposing the hidden treasures available to both visitors and residents alike. She thoroughly enjoys being a part of the Borough President’s team, engaging the community in a way that shines a positive light on Staten Island. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, music and spending time with her family and friends.
“Working with the community has always been a passion of mine and I am so grateful to be able to achieve that in my role in the Borough President’s Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs,” Siuzdak said. “I love that I am able to promote the culture and history of Staten Island and the many people who dedicate their lives to doing so”