Meet the 7th Annual Build-A-Bash Honorary Co-Chairs: Jim Salengo & Kim Siciliano

On September 26th at 6pm, Schenectady Habitat will hold its 7th Annual Build-A-Bash at the Schenectady Armory Center – we are grateful to have two dynamic community leaders as our Honorary Co-Chairs: Jim Salengo & Kim Siciliano. Learn more about them and the bash below…

And get your tickets for the bash here: https://www.giveffect.com/checkout/10861

 

Name/title:  Jim Salengo, Executive Director, Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. 

Partner/Spouse/Family?: Single at the moment, but I was with my late partner Rich for nearly 14 years. Parents live in West Rutland, VT. Sister lives in Oakland, CA. Have other immediate relatives in VT, NY, NH and FL.

Astrological Sign/Birthday? Taurus, April 21

Favorite ice cream? Lately, I love Almond Joy (coconut ice cream with almonds and chocolate) whenever I see it on a menu!

How long in current position? With agency? In Schenectady County? I’ve been at the DSIC close to 11 ½ years. Have worked all but 4 ½ years of my entire career in Schenectady County.

Where do you live (city/town)? I am actively pursuing the purchase of small commercial building in Downtown Schenectady that I will convert to a second floor apartment for myself, with retail on the first floor. It’s an exciting proposition to take part in downtown’s renaissance personally as well as professionally!

Where from? What brought you here….? I am originally from West Rutland, VT. I moved here for my first job at WMHT-TV in Rotterdam right out of college.

Currently reading/binging? I am spending most of my down time learning to speak Polish on the Duolingo app. I am Polish on my father’s side, and I grew up hearing the language spoken by my grandparents and other older relatives. They never taught it to me, but I figure better late than never!

Favorite outdoor activities?  Yard work/landscaping, biking, swimming

Did you get to go on vacation this summer, where?  Yes, I spent some time in NYC and Cape Cod. I also did a short trip to Buffalo to visit some friends. They are doing some very good things in their downtown!

Relationship to Habitat? Build site? ReStore? The Habitat ReStore is one of the DSIC’s great downtown businesses, and we are thrilled to have them here! I have known and worked with Madelyn Thorne (ED)  and Julia Hayden for years in a variety of capacities, so I am extremely honored to be helping out with this year’s Bash!

Favorite part of bash?  The Leap of Faith! Kim Siciliano and I are on a mission this year to get more supporters to take the leap!

Please share a few things that you wish you knew when you took your first leadership role.

  • There are always people who are going to disagree with you. Diplomacy and civil interactions are vital to advancing your causes and building important relationships.
  • Getting over a fear of public speaking will take you a VERY long way! Get this out of the way ASAP in any career and you will be prepared at any time and any place to represent yourself and your businesses in the best way possible.
  • Managing human resources is a challenge. Within any organization, there are a whole host of backgrounds, issues, beliefs, attitudes, etc., that affect your day-to-day operations and overall success.

Please share some of the biggest challenges you see new leaders/managers struggle with.

  • One has to be humble enough to admit shortcomings and accept constructive feedback. A visible effort to keep learning and growing shows true leadership.
  • It’s easier to try and be everyone’s friend, but you have to balance good internal dynamics with a firm plan and expectations to fulfill the organization’s mission.
  • Many new managers are placed into their roles with no formal training. Actively seek out opportunities to learn more about finance, HR, planning, etc. I decided to go back for my MBA at age 48 because I knew there were still things I could learn to make me a better leader. And I did!

Please share one of the greatest leadership lessons you have learned over your career.

  • Don’t be afraid to think BIG! It’s scary to step outside your comfort zone and not want to rock the boat when everything is going along smoothly, but sometimes necessary change is uncomfortable. A major example is the DSIC’s efforts to expand our service area in downtown for the first time in 40 years. It requires introducing an entirely new set of property owners to who we are and what we do, including the costs associated with our services, but we need to make sure the amazing new developments and improvements taking place around our current district are part of a larger and unified downtown that benefits everyone. All ships rise with the tide!

Please share a few attributes/characteristics that you admire most in community or business leaders.

Humor, humility, approachability, honesty, willingness to share experiences & ideas, belief in partnerships

Have you had a mentor? Does that person still have a presence/connection to your life today? What was their impact? Or have you been a mentor to someone else? Feel free to provide more detail

I have definitely learned something from everyone I have worked for, but one of the most influential was Donn Rogosin, the then-president of WMHT. He believed in me and gave me many, many professional opportunities in my 20’s that others may have thought I was too young to handle. I always credit Donn for giving me the confidence and wide range of experiences to carry forward through the rest of my career. I haven’t seen Donn in quite a few years, but when I do, we will chat like old times!

I have served as a mentor to many college interns over the years and have worked to share my skills and experiences to help them succeed. (I also was a mentor to Becky Daniels before she became executive director of Discover Schenectady).

Please share an experience you have had either being mentored or serving as another person’s mentor and the impact this had on you.

See above.

Do you do any community/volunteer work/coaching? Where, for how long, why, what’s your takeaway, etc.?

I have served on many volunteer boards over the years, including the American Marketing Association, Haven Grief Counseling Center, and the Stakeholders (which I co-founded). I also currently serve on the volunteer steering committee for Leadership Tech Valley. As a career not-for-profit person, I am always willing to chip in my time where needed for various organizations because I know how important this is!

Suggest a book or article that you have read that others can benefit from reading.

I honestly have about three books that I have started and stopped multiple times this summer (see Duolingo time drain above). Once I get through one, I can get back to you! LOL!

How many hours of sleep do you average nightly? How many would you like to get?

Hmmm…I probably average around 6, but I know I should shoot for at least 8. Do occasional weekend afternoon naps count!?

If you won the lottery, would you continue to work at your current job/profession? If not, what would you do?

After taking a little time to enjoy a nice vacation (!), I would see myself continuing to work at my current job. I am not the type who can sit idle for too long, and there is so much going on at the DSIC that I am proud of and would absolutely want to see through. My retirement plan (if you really want to call it that), is to own a small inn or guest house on the water somewhere.

Which annual community/charity event in the Capital Region do you look forward to attending each year and recommend that others make an effort to attend at least once? (i.e. dinner/gala, golf tourney, 5K)? Why?

Other than the Bash?!?!  Selfishly, I would highly recommend the DSIC’s annual Building Block Party fundraiser. But honestly, I always enjoy the Capital Region Chamber Annual Dinner in March. You can catch up with so many colleagues and connections from around the region, and it’s one of those few opportunities for me to get dressed to the nines. I have also really enjoyed the Ronald McDonald House Masquerade fundraiser that has been held at the Schenectady Armory Center the last several years. It’s quite the visual spectacle, and it’s fun to find a creative way to dress for each year’s theme.

 


Name/title: Kim Siciliano, Executive Director, YWCA NorthEastern New York

Partner/Spouse/Family? Husband peter, sons, Nicholas, Nathaniel and Nevan ages 17, 15, and 9, Puppy Maybeline & Cat Pixie

Astrological Sign/Birthday? Leo/July 25th

Favorite ice cream? Black raspberry with chocolate sprinkles

How long in current position? With agency? In Schenectady County? 2.5 years, with YW for 18 years+, have overseen all aspects of programming prior to becoming the ED in December of 2016

Where do you live (city/town)? Glenville

Where from? What brought you here….? From Kingston NY – came to Capital District to work at Camp Scully East Greenbush as the Program Director, the got a job as a the Assistant Program Director at Greenbush Child Caring, Inc. Came to the YW in June of 2001 and we moved from Valatie to our home in Glenville in 2001

Currently reading/binging? Game of Thrones and Antique House Refurbishing mystery books

Favorite outdoor activities? Hiking in the ADK’s with my family and pet dog Maybeline

Did you get to go on vacation this summer, where? Yes, Washington DC with my parents to see all of the sights with our kids, just like I did with my parents when I was growing up.

Rhode Island, my husband’s family has been going to RI (Misquamicut/Weekapaug) for over 50 years. We stay on the same street and some of us in the same house that his parents did when they were young. We have a seasonal campsite at Warrensburg Travel Park Campground for the past 7 years. We spend most weekends there!

Relationship to Schenectady Habitat? Build site? ReStore? Habitat’s ED Madelyn Thorne has always been a fabulous supporter of YWCA NENY and a great friend.  We have worked together on a number of initiatives over the years including the Homelessness Symposium, building of our accessibility ramp, Madelyn as MC for our Woman of Achievement Celebration and working on a build site over the years.

Favorite part of Bash? The Tug of War is fabulous because you get to see the brawn and the brains in the capital district duking it out for a prestigious award all in support of Habitat and the awe-inspiring work that they do year-round in our community.  The food is fabulous too!!!

Please share a few things that you wish you knew when you took your first leadership role…

I wish I knew to slow down and take each day as it comes.  Being a leader of a non-profit is a job that requires stamina and something that evolves over many years of hard work.  I also feel having a lack of patience at times gets the job done, maybe a job that has been in the pipeline for some time or par tof regular discussion at meetings, but now you take the action and get it done.  That is something that I feel has made me successful and has started the re-birth of the YW.

Please share some of the biggest challenges you see new leaders/managers struggle with.

Staffing that is loyal, committed and passionate has been the cornerstone of the YW’s success. Building a strong core team that values the work of the agency is difficult and can take time. New leaders need to make sure they are not the smartest person in the room.  And then, look to those other “experts” for advice and take that advice to move the agency forward.  You cannot lead alone!

Please share one of the greatest leadership lessons you have learned over your career.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who takes credit. As a leader, make sure to give your staff accolades for a job well done.  Let others take the lead on big projects and recognize them for their work and passion. You are not the face of your agency, you are part of the leadership team and as such, should always put “aces in their places,” sending your most knowledgeable staff to cover topics that they are experts in, rather than it always being you. This creates a spirit of teamwork and support within an agency that gives all staff the opportunity to be empowered!

Which attributes/characteristics do you admire most in community or business leaders? Humor, flexibility, versatile, passionate, mentor, supportive, collaborative, smart!

Have you had a mentor? Does that person still have a presence/connection to your life today? What was their impact? Or have you been a mentor to someone else? I have had so many mentors over the course of my career that I could not just pick one. Each time I have come upon a challenge, I have found support in so many other community leaders who helped me through it or gave sound advice or just listened to me vent….to know you are not alone in a situation or challenge that is facing you is key to keeping your sanity in the world of non-profit leadership!

Please share an experience you have had either being mentored or serving as another person’s mentor and the impact this had on you. I have seen a number of the staff who have initially started working with me get promotions, both internally at the YW or moving on to another non-profit to become a leader there. The feeling that I have when seeing someone who felt I was a good mentor to them move on to a successful career doing something they love by helping others is priceless. Even as I am only two years into my Executive Director role, I am constantly looking for who our next leaders will be at the YW, who is being groomed to take on roles that we need filled to increase our community capacity and how we shape those people into leaders for the next 100 years to come.  This is a great legacy to have as a leader in our community.

Do you do any community/volunteer work/coaching? Where, for how long, why, what’s your takeaway, etc.?

  • Kiwanis Club of Schenectady since 2005 – Past President, Treasurer, VP, and current Secretary
  • Kiwanis Club Foundation: Current President (since 2010)
  • Child Care Coordinating Council: Previous board member, Past Secretary, Past President 2006-16
  • Crossroads Center for Children- board member since 2018, Current Vice President
  • Coaching my children’s sports teams: basketball, Soccer, Teeball from 2009-2016

Suggest a recent book or article that you have read that others can benefit from reading.

“Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott is a great book sharing the step by step actions one can take to really have deep conversations at work and in life so that all involved have a higher understanding of the necessary outcome. It really helps you see that any one conversation at home or work could change how you live your life, move forward with a decision or create better understanding between you and a loved one or co-worker.

How many hours of sleep do you average nightly? How many would you like to get?

I sleep around 8 hours per night and would love 10, but definitely go through cycles where I only get 5-7 hours.  I do love to sleep.

If you won the lottery, would you continue to work at your current job/profession? If not, what would you do? I would continue my work but would give the YW $1 million dollars of my winnings which would take away a lot of our challenges and then move our agency to the next level of community service.  Financial struggle is truly a non-profits worst enemy, I feel, in winning the battle between band-aiding situations and finding permanent solutions that lead to better successes.  Being able to focus on long-range planning and the vision of the Executive Director, the board and the agency allows for new ideas and creative solutions to surface thereby leading an agency to a higher level of service to the community, its clients and to its staff.

Which annual community/charity event in the Capital Region do you look forward to attending each year and recommend that others make an effort to attend at least once? (i.e. dinner/gala, golf tourney, 5K)? Why?

The YW’s Woman of Achievement Celebration is a fabulous gathering of trailblazing women and their supporters who have made a huge impact in their community.  It is uplifting, inspirational and motivational….the Bash is a close second! Being a part of the Bash is an eye opening opportunity to see real homeowners talking about getting that key for the first time and the emotion that is associated with that s a heart melting experience.

 

 

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