Grzybowski leaving town post to helm new education center

Grzybowski leaving town post to helm new education center

Record-Journal
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Amy Gryzbowski, who was the town's interim town manager for six months in 2015, announced her resignation effective Aug. 17. Grzybowski has accepted a position as the executive director of the Westerly Higher Education and Industry Center, which is being built on Friendship Street. Sun file photo

WESTERLY — Amy Grzybowski, who played a lead role in the town’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy and served as interim town manager for six months last year, will leave her position as director of development services for the town later this month to run the Westerly Higher Education and Industry Center, currently under construction on Friendship Street.

Grzybowski, whose resignation takes effect Aug. 17, was initially hired in 2012 to serve as director of code enforcement and grant administration. She served as interim town manager following the sudden resignation of former Town Manager Michelle Buck in April 2015, and currently holds the title of director of development services.

As executive director of the center, Grzybowski will be responsible for developing relationships between employers and the job-training facility, and coordinating the programming with the Community College of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island, and Rhode Island College. Electric Boat is the facility’s first confirmed employer.

In her new role, Grzybowski will become part of the staff of the state Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner, a branch of the state Council on Postsecondary Education.

“We are pleased to welcome Amy to our team. Her knowledge of Westerly, her leadership and economic development experience make her an ideal candidate to lead this venture,” said Jim Purcell, Rhode Island Commissioner of Postsecondary Education.

Grzybowski, who has a master’s degree in administration of justice, said her new position is a natural outgrowth of her interest in education. She previously served as an adjunct professor of homeland security courses at Salve Regina University in Newport and continues in that role at CCRI, where she covers the same subject matter.

“I’ve been excited about the project, the new facility, since I heard about it, and I’ve always had a love of education,” Grzybowski said.

The facility is expected to bring hundreds of students and teachers to the downtown area.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the community, will expand the downtown, prompt private economic development, and provide job training,” Grzybowski said.

In addition to the Superstorm Sandy response and long-term recovery, Grzybowski also played a critical role in the town’s ability to secure about $1.9 million in federal grant funds and local money to help shoreline property owners elevate their homes above the flood plain.

She also helped push forward plans to dredge Winnapaug Pond. Overall, she leaves at a time when she is overseeing the administration of $13 million in grants to the town.

Town Manager Derrik M. Kennedy, who has worked closely with Grzybowski since October, when he started his position, said her departure will leave a void.

“Amy Grzybowski is the epitome of an excellent municipal employee. She cares deeply for this town and in making sure things are done right. Amy worked with me before I came on board to update me, was an excellent resource during my first couple months on the job, and continues to be a trusted sounding board for me in decision-making.

“Amy works extremely hard with her department staff to keep projects moving forward. I cannot say enough positive things about Amy. She will be missed,” Kennedy said.

Grzybowski has offered to work for the town on a part-time basis through Sept. 16 to help administer grants and other ongoing projects. She has also offered to retain her position as emergency management director.

Her time as town manager came following a tumultuous period that saw Buck and others resign.

“We tried to maintain stability and positivity. It was a hard time for the staff, who work hard and are dedicated day in and day out, often without any acknowledgment or praise,” Grzybowski. She described her time working for the town as “an amazing opportunity and rewarding experience.”

In her new position, Grzybowski will be responsible for ensuring the facility meets one of the primary goals set by its organizers — that it become self-sustaining. “Electric Boat is just a percentage of the project. We will be looking for other businesses and job-training opportunities ... my hope is for a thriving facility that is a model in the state,” Grzybowski said.

If construction proceeds as planned, job-training programs for Electric Boat workers will begin in November. Electric Boat employees will begin earning certificates next fall in carpentry, electrical work, pipe-fitting and sheet-metal work. Other classes are expected to start in the spring semester.

The $5.1 million center is being built with a combination of state and private funds. Charles “Chuck” Royce’s Royce Family Fund committed nearly $1.8 million. Royce Family Fund Executive Director Dan King said the fund has long been impressed by Grzybowski.

“She’s incredibly driven and municipally minded. We’re excited to have her involved with the project. You really couldn’t pick a better person,” King said.

dfaulkner@thewesterlysun.com


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