NYPA To Support Erie Canal Harbor Development With New Community Liaison

Christine Pritchard

April 2, 2010


WHITE PLAINS—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel today announced the appointment of Elise Cusack to handle NYPA’s Erie Canal Harbor efforts in Western New York.

As the Community Liaison, Erie Harbor and Special Projects, Ms. Cusack will be responsible for advising, planning and coordinating communiciations efforts on behalf of the Power Authority with local officials and community groups. Specifically, Ms. Cusack will facilitate contact with government representatives and stakeholders and advocate Power Authority positions on matters pertaining to NYPA’s role in waterfront redevelopment and other special projects.

Ms. Cusack will be performing her duties from NYPA’s new Buffalo regional office at 95 Perry Street, which borders the Buffalo waterfront, for which the Power Authority is providing tens of millions of dollars in funding to support its revitalization of harbor and greenway activities.  Last December, NYPA reached an agreement with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to enhance and accelerate its investment in the waterfront. Specifically, NYPA offered to accelerate its previously established financial commitment to provide a payment stream of $4.7 million a year for 20 years.  In addition, NYPA agreed to provide an industrial incentive award of $3.7 million per year for the next 20 years. Together these NYPA initiatives provide a funding stream necessary for the ECHDC, the project sponsor, to leverage private financing to advance critical infrastructure improvement projects.

“We are pleased to appoint Elise to spearhead NYPA’s efforts in helping revitalize the Buffalo waterfront,” Kessel said. “Capitalizing on her extensive experience in community affairs and public policy initiatives in Western New York as well as her knowledge on energy industry matters and business development, Elise will be a vital asset to the Power Authority in helping transform the Erie Canal Harbor into a recreational, cultural and economic development magnet of the Western New York region.”

“Elise will be a welcome and talented addition to the stellar staff at the Power Authority,” said Michael J. Townsend, chairman of NYPA’s Board of Trustees. “Throughout the past several years, she has demonstrated remarkable acumen in energy, economic development, financial and business matters, which will serve the Power Authority well in its commitment to help jumpstart the Western New York economy.”

Ms. Cusack has extensive professional experience in business development, marketing and communications. She is the founder and president of GCDA Associates in Amherst, and has been responsible for the development of business strategies and identification of networking resources on behalf of clients.

Also, Ms. Cusack has worked as a senior project manager at Cogan Communications in Buffalo, New York, where she created and implemented regional and national marketing and public relations strategies for various clients, including the National Football League, ESPN and Motorola.

As an Erie County Legislator, where she served for four years, Ms. Cusack worked extensively on a myriad of public policy issues, particularly pertaining to the county fiscal matters.  Ms. Cusack also served as the chairperson of the Committee on Community Services and as a member of the Government Affairs Committee. In addition, she served on the boards of the Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Center and the Erie Niagara Regional Partnership. She authored numerous pieces of legislation and helped create a customized constituent relations management database.

Previous to her election, Elise was a Senior Associate at Greener and Hook, a communications consulting firm in Washington, D.C. where she spearheaded efforts to produce television commercials and wrote comprehensive media analysis, while coordinating clients’ grassroots and communications strategies through television, radio and print outlets.

Most recently, Ms. Cusack served as a trustee for the New York Power Authority where she demonstrated her leadership in energy industry matters. As a trustee, Ms. Cusack was responsible for overseeing the Authority’s multi-billion dollar budget; monitoring operations including the upgrading and building of all facilities; and overseeing policies and programs that promote energy efficiency and the development of clean energy technologies. She stepped down as a trustee earlier in March.

As Community Liaison, Erie Harbor and Special Projects, Ms. Cusack’s salary will be $77,500.


About NYPA:

■ The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■ NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. ■ It is the nation's largest state public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ More than 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower.  Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. ■For more information, www.nypa.gov.


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