Monday, Feb 26th

Trustee Karen Brew Brings Analytic Skills and an Open Mind to the Dais at Village Hall

KarenBrewTrustee Karen Brew is completing her first two years of service as a Trustee on the Scarsdale Village Board. Below she reflects on her work to date and what she will continue to prioritize in her second term.

Why have you enjoyed serving as Village Trustee and why do you want to continue?

I have enjoyed using my strategic and analytical skills honed over my professional career in Marketing Management to make a positive impact for our community. I see this as a very transformative and exciting time for Scarsdale. Shortly after I started my 1st term we hired Rob Cole to be our next Village Manager. Village Manager Cole, together with the Village Board, is looking to move our local government forward, to be a 21st century leader. We have achieved many things during my two years on the Board but there is still much work to be done! I want to continue helping Scarsdale on this trajectory.

What do you think are some of the best features of Scarsdale and why do you like living here?

Scarsdale is a community of intelligent, caring people who value all that this suburban lifestyle has to offer. Scarsdale provides top-notch services; Village management continues to listen to residents and our invaluable Boards & Councils to continuously improve/add services in a fiscally and operationally prudent manner. I enjoy living here because I value our “Village in a park” environment but also the close proximity to New York City to easily take advantage of what it has to offer.

In your first term as Village Trustee, what work are you most proud of for yourself and the Village Board?

There are a number of items – As Personnel Committee Chair I was heavily involved in the search and appointment of a number of important positions in our local government: Village Manager Rob Cole, Deputy Village Manager Alex Marshall; Fire Chief Christopher Mytych; Village Clerk Taylor Emanuel and then also over 25 positions on our Volunteer Boards & Councils. I also led the research, Board and public discussion of the Village’s position regarding opting out of cannabis on-premise lounges and retail dispensaries. As a member of the Public Safety Committee we made huge progress leveraging communication between the Police, Fire, SVAC and the schools to improve Village and school-wide safety. Finally this work is clearly ongoing but I serve on the Pool Special Project Committee. To date we have completed an existing conditions study, a statistically valid community-wide survey, multiple focus groups and community engagement to determine that the vast majority (95%) of the community wants a pool and that a seasonal pool is the fiscally and operationally responsible path forward. We are now at the point of contracting the work to move forward with design and ultimately construction of the facilities. If I am re-elected I would wish to continue working on this committee.

The Village faces challenges in budgeting for everything that is requested by the community — roads, the pool, Village Hall, traffic improvements and more.  How do you prioritize these needs in order to decide what should be funded?

This is certainly a continuous balancing act. Fortunately we have a strong village management staff with the knowledge and expertise to help guide our decisions during annual budgeting. The budget is formed from the department level up, with each department presenting their priorities for the year(s) ahead. Once this is all put together we as a Board, through questions, analysis and discussion, determine what should be funded now and what can be held for a future time.

What, if anything, has surprised you about serving as a Village Trustee?

I think what has surprised me most is that there are few easy decisions; rarely is there consensus in a community with so many passionate viewpoints. The listening, data gathering, analytical, strategy setting and collaborating skills I used on a daily basis in my professional work have enabled me to take a step back and approach issues with logic not emotion. It is imperative to perform the role with an open mind, hearing all sides and being willing to flex on your viewpoint given new information. I have achieved that in my 1st term and have subsequently added value as a member of the Board.

Tell us about your prior professional and volunteer experiences and how they have contributed to your service as Village Trustee.

I spent the majority of my professional career in Marketing Management which required setting strategies, developing plans to meet those strategies, and then executing to deliver the results. Through focus groups and research, I honed the ability to analyze my target audience and understand their needs and wants. I was responsible for creating budgets and managing workflows to fall within budget. I led cross-functional teams relying on the expertise of other functional groups to advise decision-making. My work required strong listening, fact finding and collaboration skills. As Village Trustee, I have put these skills to use for Scarsdale’s benefit, helping to set priorities and policies for the village’s future.

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