Friday, February 16, 2007
Meet the members of Carlisle's Finance Committee
So who are the FinCom's members? The current board is experience-laden with three company founders and several high-level financial officers, two with previous public sector experience. Three are parents, one is an empty-nester, and three never had children. Both working and retired citizens are represented, as is a range of ages. Two are women, one with a special-needs child. Board experience ranges from one member with seven years, to two members who joined the board only six months ago. Following are their individual stories.
Thornton Ash of Nowell Farme Road says that as chair "I think I work harder to keep a total perspective. My hot button is, 'How do we balance all the competing needs in the town?'" He moved with his wife to Carlisle in 1984 and worked for many years for Digital Equipment Corporation and other technology companies in corporate finance. He has many hobbies and interests, including amateur radio, sailing and travel.
Ash joined the FinCom four years ago in response to an ad in the Mosquito. He had recently retired, was concerned about taxes, and believed his background in finance and his many years in town qualified him to make a contribution. As to the work of the FinCom, "I kind of enjoy it. You get to meet people around town. It feels like you're contributing a service to the whole community." He adds, "It's fairly hectic." But for someone who likes to grapple with financial issues, "It's fun."
David Trask of Log Hill Road says, "I think I have more sensitivity to the needs of taxpayers than to the need for budget growth." He has lived in Carlisle 45 years and raised four children here. Now retired, he worked as an engineer for General Electric, Detroit Controls, and Raytheon with budgeting responsibility. He enjoys reading, tennis and skiing.
Trask is now in his seventh year on the FinCom, and during his time on the board has been an advocate for investing wisely and holding the line on spending. He expects this to be his last year, "three appointments is the longest you can have" and he looks forward to contributing to the town in another way, "maybe long-term planning" once his term is up in June.
Barbara Bjornson of Prospect Street says, "Being a parent of three school-age children gives me visibility into what's actually happening at the schools." One child is at Concord Carlisle High School (CCHS), a sixth grader is at Carlisle Public School (CPS), and a son with special needs is at a school in Stoneham. Bjornson and her family moved to Carlisle ten years ago and chose the town "for the feeling of community." She enjoys reading, cooking, knitting, furniture restoration, riding and skiing and "watching my kids play sports."
Bjornson is a CPA and currently VP of Administration at the Coyle Company in Waltham, an estate planning and insurance firm. Before that she spent 17 years at Bain and Co. She says her background gives her "a perspective on reasonable approaches to budgeting," but she found "a government entity has whole different rules." She is in her third budget cycle with the FinCom.
As the mother of a special-needs child, "One thing I bring is detailed knowledge of how special education works and an appreciation for all pieces of the decision, both financial, and the impact on a child's education. It's important because it's one of the more significant line items in school budgets." She adds, "The population (of special-needs children) is always changing, and we need to keep a dialog going about options." As for her own experience with the Carlisle and Concord programs, "We feel very, very lucky."
Sue Wolfe of Concord Road moved to Carlisle in 2001. Currently she is Vice Chancellor of Fiscal and Administrative Policy for the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, a position in which she manages budgeting for state and community colleges as well as arranging capital and bond funding, and is also a legislative liaison.
Wolfe is in her third year on the FinCom, and laughs as she calls herself 'the crank,' "It's no secret I'm one of the more conservative members in terms of spending." She joined the board because "I'm a numbers junky and enjoy that kind of work." She was also curious to get an inside view of town government, "I'm not from New England, and the town structure and Town Meeting were very novel."
"It's been a marvelous opportunity to get to know people. Overall it's been a wonderful experience. It's nice to see the number of people who devote time and energy to the betterment of the town. They make Carlisle a better place to live."
Dave Model of Carroll Drive calls himself "the creative type, not a big bureaucracy kind of guy." He and his wife moved to Carlisle from Connecticut in 2004. Last November they adopted two-year old Samantha from China. Since then, he and his wife have juggled childcare, with Model playing dad in the morning and his wife taking the afternoon shift. Model loves sports, including playing soccer in an over-50 league.
Model is an aerospace engineering architect, and, after moving to the area, built up a business repairing jet engines in Andover, took it international, and merged it with General Electric. He then joined friends and took another company public. His current venture is an R&D firm in Chelmsford, TritonSystems Inc., in the biomed sector.
He has been with the FinCom for two years, joining because, "I had not had a chance to volunteer in Granby [Conn.] and wanted to make a contribution." He first interned with the Mosquito, which "I enjoyed, and which helped me understand the issues." He adds, "I love Carlisle, and love being part of the volunteer network." He adds, "I'm impressed with the quality of the volunteer work force. We see everybody and they all do a very fine job."
Jerry Lerman of Stearns Street is a long-time resident of the town, having moved here in 1979. He retired in 2001 from a software company he started, and has been able to spend time flying his four-seat Cessna 182 which he owns with a friend. He also spends time in his large vegetable garden, and in winter enjoys cross-country skiing. "I also enjoy cooking and its corollary — eating."
Lerman joined the FinCom last July after answering a notice in the Mosquito, "I had enjoyed the benefits of being a Carlisle resident, but hadn't had time to give back. While he worried his experience was not in finance, "I had paid bills and done budgets. Large numbers don't frighten me." He does not have kids, and as an outsider to the school system, "I can look at school expenses with a clear eye." But, "I'm a firm believer in the value of education. A good school system is well worth paying for."
He says, "The past several months have been an education. There's a vast amount of information to digest. It's been fascinating, and I'm working to get up to speed so I can make a more substantial contribution."
Dave Verrill of Forest Park Drive moved to Carlisle in 1993, in part because of the quality of the school system. Currently he has a seventh grader at CPS and a sophomore at CCHS. Verrill believes his point-of-view as a parent with students in the schools, along with his liaison duties with the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District, are his "value-added piece" to the FinCom. He works for Hub Investment Group funding early stage companies, and describes himself as "a frustrated golfer, adventure skier, and a reader when time allows. He also likes to "cook for a crowd and travel as much as possible."
Verrill joined the FinCom this summer, after being asked by Bjornson while their kids played sports together. "I hadn't thought seriously about it, but decided rather than sit on the sidelines complaining, I should get involved in making decisions." He had previously served an appointment as a corporate fundraiser for MIT's Sloan School, so had some familiarity with public-sector finance. "I hope I can provide creative thinking and a fresh view." What has surprised him so far? "It's a boatload of work and the decisions are more difficult than I expected." But he adds, "It's been a good experience. The board's diversity is very good and very representative of the town. It's a bunch of good people."
© 2007 The