Chief of Severna Park council to leave, confident of its future Leaders available to succeed her

November 18, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff writer

Pat Troy feels safe about her plans to retire as president of the Greater Severna Park Council.

"I wouldn't leave this job unless I felt I was leaving it in good hands," says Ms. Troy, who is stepping down in January after three years as president.

A year ago, various council members expressed fears that the council would fall apart when Ms. Troy, the grand dame of community leadership, retired.

She says that won't happen.

"I feel we have a good momentum built up. We have an excellent board of directors," she says. "Any of them could take the organization and run with it."

The most important change during her tenure, and the one most likely to ensure that the council won't lose its effectiveness when she steps down, says Ms. Troy, is the delegation of work.

"I think we have been able to divide the work of the council up so the burden is more diffused than it used to be. Before the executive board got up and running, the burden used to rest very strongly on the president. We've managed to change that."

The council, a powerful umbrella group of civic associations, was started in 1959 by a committee of a local Kiwanis Club.

The organization had strong years, but sometimes floundered under weak presidents, says longtime member Al Johnston.

During Ms. Troy's first year as the council's second woman president, she organized an executive board to help her run the volunteer group. The board consists of the president, the vice-president, secretary, treasurer and three delegates-at-large who may or may not chair the group's many committees.

This board, which has coalesced during the last year, is the council's greatest strength, Ms. Troy says.

One continuing difficulty for a group like the council is having to rely solely on volunteer labor, council leader Dan Nataf says.

"That's one of our biggest challenges," Ms. Troy concurs. "Everybody is a volunteer and you have to work everything in around their lives."

Recently, though, the council has "had a great strengthening because more people have become aware of what makes the council tick," Ms. Troy says.

"We've brought in more people, some relative newcomers, and done a lot of good planning."

For example, the council last spring held its first planning retreat, addressing difficult issues such as growth. Since then, the council has formed the area's first community planning coalition, involving the council, Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees and other community groups.

During Ms. Troy's tenure, the council mailed a survey to 10,000 Severna Park homes and is using data from the eight-page questionnaires as a guide for long-range planning.

Says Ms. Troy: "I feel the thing we've accomplished in the last three years has been to do a lot of positive things, moving beyond the watchdog role to being pro-active."

The council has become more effective at heading off unwelcomed county or state projects by getting involved in the early stages of transportation and other types of planning, she says.

The council has established closer ties with state legislators, and aired community concerns about legislation.

The group has worked with the local Chamber of Commerce to foster community spirit through note cards, mugs and shirts.

When burglaries and break-ins became a problem this year, community groups worked together to hire off-duty police officers and organize neighborhood patrols.

Perhaps most significant, the council has been able to establish itself "as a respected organization in the community," Ms. Troy says.

"We are building on a long history, but the longer we keep going and the more things we get involved in, the greater our credibility."

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