Helping Communities Face Change

I come from a family of elected officials who discussed municipal council meetings and zoning applications around the dinner table. My father and grandfather both served as mayor of my hometown. By sitting through many local meetings as a child, I learned that change, although inevitable, can take many forms. It can be welcomed, necessary, or demanded. It can also face contempt or cause backlash and fear. Sometimes, one proposed change stirs all these feelings within a community. I thus learned from an early age about the importance of being involved in local government and about building consensus, so that communities can face change together.

Those early lessons fueled a desire to work at the intersection of law and community development. During summer break between my junior and senior years at Georgetown University, I came home to intern for a not-for-profit community development organization in New Brunswick, New Jersey. There, I helped with the planning and construction of a hotel, a children’s research hospital, and a school. I saw the role that attorneys played in the redevelopment process, and I realized that my interests in economic development and local politics could be married through the pursuit of redevelopment law.

I applied to law school specifically to become a redevelopment attorney. During the last 13 years at Gibbons, I have assisted clients with obtaining the necessary state, county, and municipal approvals they needed to construct new projects.

My clients’ projects are transformational, and by their very nature, complicated. They have resurrected contaminated brownfields and transformed vacant blocks into mixed-use communities. They have built high-rise residential buildings in downtown Newark, market-rate housing in Atlantic City, new hotels in Asbury Park, and homes across the state. My clients’ projects have brought and will continue to bring economic investment, affordable housing, community open space, and improved transportation and infrastructure to communities throughout New Jersey.

I am fortunate that my career continues to allow me to participate in the local government process. And—perhaps to the dismay of my own children—I am still discussing zoning applications around the dinner table.