Friday, December 07, 2007

New CB9 Chair Brings Quiet Passion

New CB9 Chair Brings Quiet Passion
By Betsy Morais

Pat Jones has an interesting perspective on keeping a lid on things.

“If you want to call me ‘The Hat Lady,’ that’s fine by me,” said Jones, second vice chair of Community Board 9 and sole nominee for chair next year.

A self-described private person, Jones believes that keeping passions under wraps is key to effectiveness on an often-raucuous board. “Sometimes it’s the quiet storm that gets the work done in an effective and efficient manner,” she said.

The Flushing, Queens native moved to West Harlem in 1997, after earning a degree in accounting from Michigan State University and being named managing director at JP Morgan. About two years later, a neighborhood friend brought Jones along to a meeting that would change the course of her life.

“I thought it would be a good learning opportunity,” Jones recalled of her first CB9 meeting. Captivated by the local controversies and eager to tackle the issues, she soon began to envision herself as a capable board member. Jones joined CB9 in 2001, and was elected second vice chair in 2004. She calls her new life “my community service years.”

These days, she focuses so much of her energy on the board, which serves over 10,000 residents, she has barely any spare time. In true C.P.A. style, Jones suspects that people consider her to be boring. She has no hobbies to speak of, explaining, “I don’t go to Canada and I don’t shoot, like the current chair,” hunting aficionado Jordi Reyes-Montblanc. Uninterested in fanfare, Jones quietly devotes herself to her CB9 responsibilities.

Her hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. “Obviously, I’m pleased the members of CB9 have recognized my proven dedication,” Jones said of being the only nominee for chair.

“To me, from the beginning, it [his ideal replacement] has always been Pat and I have persuaded her and pushed her and goaded her into finally realizing that,” Reyes-Montblanc said.

Jones has a platform of three “L’s,” leadership, leverage, and loyalty, on which she has based her candidacy. She also hopes to ensure that the board builds on its existing strengths as it confronts struggles such as the conflict over Manhattanville development.

“The issues facing the board are increasingly complex,” Jones explained, adding that, while she feels members are capable of addressing tough challenges, CB9 would benefit from targeted training to enhance its understanding of zoning, city planning, and other processes.

In addition, Jones seeks to improve communication among board members, using technology as a vehicle. By building upon the CB9 Web site and sending out more e-mails, Jones would like to provide members with relevant information prior to meetings so that they have sufficient time to scrutinize the issues before voting on them.

Although she is not the most vocal member of CB9, Jones is confident that her project management skills and ability to collaborate with others well suit her for the chair position.

She says she is prepared to stand up for diverse viewpoints. “Everybody needs a voice, and many times positions that I advocate may not be my personal positions at this point in my life. But every voice needs to be heard,” she explained.

Reyes-Montblanc champions his impending successor. “Pat Jones needs little advice. She’s experienced. She is tough. She is focused and she is not easily bamboozled by anybody,” he said, adding that, “She has my support 150 percent.”

As her election approaches, Jones looks forward with optimism. “Obstacles or barriers can always be overcome—you just need to have the patience, the wherewithal, and the desire to figure out how to do it,” she said.

All the while, she’ll keep her feet on the ground and a hat on her head. “I don’t know if I’d call it a trademark,” Jones said. “I like hats and I think I look good in hats.”

Melissa Repko contributed to this article.
Betsy Morais can be reached at

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