This is Ms. Berky’s first term as an elected official, a role that calls upon her 30-year career as a professional urban planner and consultant in local environmental, economic, and community development issues. She has worked extensively on community revitalization and adaptive reuse of historic places, cities and sites, waterfronts, downtowns, and cultural institutions in the United States and abroad. A major focus of this work is civic engagement to foster an environment of respectful discussion, advocacy and informed decision-making.
Born and raised in New York City, Jennifer earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art History from SUNY Stony Brook and Masters’ degrees in Urban Planning and Real Estate Development from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She is also certified in conservation by ICCROM, an intergovernmental UNESCO program in Rome, Italy. Ms. Berky has lived for several years abroad during her career and studies, and is fluent in Spanish, French and Italian.
Berky began her career as a design and construction project manager for projects in DUMBO, Brooklyn, lower Manhattan and noted cultural institutions such as Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Carnegie Hall. She also worked as a consultant for the World Bank in Washington, DC and for government agencies and NGOs in Jerusalem, Rome and several other cities in the US and abroad. Since moving to the Hudson Valley in 2004, Jennifer worked for eight years as Deputy Director of Planning for Ulster County and, in 2012, re-established her consulting practice, Hone Strategic, LLC, providing urban planning, preservation, and development advising. She works with numerous community leaders, municipalities, non-profit organizations and private developers on sustainable, community-driven development projects. Berky is also a regular lecturer for undergraduate and education in environmental and urban studies, including, including 4 years at Bard College.
She has spent about half her career in public service, including:
Three years as a project manager of design and construction for public facilities in New York City government;
- Four years as a consultant for environmental policy and local economic development at the World Bank, where she led international missions to Albania, Brazil, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Romania, and the West Bank, authoring studies and on multi-sector projects (e.g., infrastructure, tourism, economic development) and policy documents on “community-driven development” and cultural heritage.
During her 8 years as Deputy Director of Planning in Ulster County (2004-2012), she:
- Wrote Ulster County’s Open Space Plan, ushering it through numerous public meetings to gather input and gain broad public support leading to unanimous adoption by the Ulster County Legislature in 2007.
- Reviewed and evaluated local laws, draft plans (e.g., comprehensive plans), and development project proposals on a regular basis from all 24 Ulster County municipalities.
- Won several grants for funding of County projects and plans.
- Drafted policies and resolutions for legislative approval.
- Was the County’s liaison and coordinator of the Ulster County Charter Commission, which included research that contributed to the drafting of the first Ulster County Charter, adopted in 2006.
- Founded Ulster County’s Main Street program, providing support to several municipalities and organizations to promote local economic development.
- Was a team leader in the development of Ulster Tomorrow(2009) the county’s first economic development plan. She also implemented many of the projects and programs recommended by the plan.
Current and Recent Community Service
- Executive member of New York State’s Hudson River Valley Greenway board, appointed as member-at-large by the New York State Assembly (2013-present).
- Member of the New York State Council on the ArtsRegional Economic Development Advisory Panel (2015-2018), appointed by Governor Cuomo.
- Is the Planning and Policy Advisor to KingstonCitizens.org since its founding in 2007.
- Founding member and board member of Re>Think Local, a regional organization funded by the Local Economies Project of the New World Foundation committed to supporting sustainable local business development.
- Served for 3 years on board of Temple Emanuel in Kingston (2012-2014).
- Has served 3 years on Kingston Historic Landmarks Preservation Commission (2013-present).
- Was appointed by Mayor Gallo in 2013 to Kingston Tidal Waterfront Flooding Task Force.
- Served on Kingston Climate Action Task Force for 2 years (2013-2014).
- Has organized and led a number of community forums with businesses and residents to hear their ideas about community development.
- Is an Advisory Board member of the Kingston Land Trust and an active volunteer on Kingston Rail Trail Committee.
- Created a scholarship fund through the Ulster County Community Foundation for the Kingston Library, now in its 8th year. Recipients are under-served college-bound seniors at Kingston High School.
- Brought the Bard College Clemente Humanities program to the Kingston Library that provides free college courses to lower income adults, now in its 5th year.
- Led a delegation of educators to Albany in a dialogue with the State Education Commission in 2012 as volunteer for the Alliance for Quality Education.
- Has very been active in supporting her fellow Democrats and Working Families Party candidates, volunteering for various campaigns in federal, state and local elections.
Other Recent Projects of Note
Lost Rondout: A Story of Urban Removal: On-film interviewee and contributor to a full-length documentary on the history of Urban Renewal in, Kingston, NY.
Kingston Urban Agriculture Planning and Zoning Study (2014): As a resident and planning consultant, Berky wrote this study working closely with numerous stakeholders and local leaders. Soon after, the study’s comprehensive planning and zoning recommendations were adopted by the City of Kingston’s Common Council.
TEDx Long Dock, Beacon, NY (2013): Opened the Hudson Valley’s first TEDx event on “Creative Placemaking in the Hudson Valley” in Beacon last year with the first talk.