Leader who reconciled factions on community council steps down

January 13, 1994|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

For three years, they called Pat Troy "Madame President," and it was more than a title.

As the grand dame of the Greater Severna Park Council, she united often disparate factions within the community association, forging the group into a strong political force in Anne Arundel County.

Tuesday evening, she presided over the meeting that elected Ellen McGee-Keller her successor. Three years as head of the council, Ms. Troy decided, was enough.

"You get tired. You start to burn out," said Ms. Troy, 47. "I think people become itchy for something new, and I think it's important for the council's health not to be identified with any one individual for too very long."

Aided by a calm voice and a quick wit, Ms. Troy usually managed to soothe tempers and lead the council forward during her tenure.

Often, a certain bluntness helped her quell the ranks. On one particularly contentious evening, when the group was debating options for a proposed East-West Boulevard, she warned members:

"Don't interrupt the speakers. Don't make noises when you agree with them. Don't make noises when you disagree with them. Cool it. We're here to explore this issue."

She was honest about the fact that not everybody could win every time, commenting on another occasion: "Frequently communities are hurt by positions that [the council] takes. Sometimes the individual community prevails, sometimes it doesn't."

But she always tried to be fair, delegates agreed.

"She was a very good president because she was a compromiser, very objective," said Evelyn Kampmeyer, a delegate for the Berrywood South community.

"She always tried to solve problems, and she would spend the time hunting alternatives and creative solutions. She realized that the council had to look holistically at problems in order to find the best solution," Ms. Kampmeyer said.

As president, Ms. Troy broadened the scope of the council's interests to include more legislative, economic and environmental issues. She worked to pull various segments of the business community, as well as private citizens, into the group. She led the council to considerable quasi-political power.

She accomplished this "extraordinary amount" largely because of her dedication and willingness to spend so much time on a volunteer job, board member Dan Nataf said.

But she's ready for a change.

"Some people thought I'd be in tears tonight," Ms. Troy said Tuesday. "Trust me, I'm not!"

She thanked the board, the committee chairs and the delegates for all their hard work, adding that "we've accomplished some good stuff over the last three years."

She recalled the moment nearly a decade ago when then-president Stuart G. Morris called her and said: "We're totally desperate; could you consider being secretary?"

"In a weak moment, I said yes," jested Ms. Troy. "It's one of the best things I've ever done."

After serving as a delegate and then secretary for several years, Ms. Troy became the second woman president in the council's 35-year history.

Mr. Morris says Ms. Troy "followed a somewhat disheveled leadership. That's good if you're a refreshing change, and she was."

During her three years, the new president "came through some tough times," he said. "She proved to have the ability de-fuse what could have been some very explosive issues, and she did it by building a consensus. Part of that was that she listened to people, even if their ideas were not what she would have supported."

Ms. Troy emphasized that she isn't abandoning the council; she will remain as one of four directors on the group's advisory board. But until the council voted in new officers Tuesday night, she was still president -- making jokes, coercing speakers to stick to their time limits, clarifying muddles.

When the council prepared to vote on several changes to its constitution, the wording on one change was rather confusing.

Everyone else was ready to vote, but Ms. Troy would have none of it.

"I'm not sure it's so clear," she announced, with typical directness. "I've got a question."

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