Biographies

Dierdre ScozzafavaMark P. Pattison
Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government

Mark P. Pattison was appointed by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado as the Deputy Secretary for Local Government. He was previously the Director of Local Government Services at the Department of State.

Mr. Pattison also previously served as Deputy Commissioner for the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities and as a Deputy Comptroller for the Office of the State Comptroller. 

Mr. Pattison has spent many years in public service.  He was Mayor of the City of Troy from 1996 through 2003. Mr. Pattison worked at the Rensselaer County Chapter of the Association for Retarded Citizens for 20 years, including 12 years as its Director of Residential Services.

He served as Vice-President of the City of Troy's School Board, President of Vanderheyden Hall, Vice-Chair of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Chairperson of the Hudson Mohawk Heritage Area Commission and President of the New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies. He was a trustee and faculty member of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and has served on many community boards, including the Center for Economic Growth, the Troy Rehabilitation Improvement Program (TRIP) and the Commission for Economic Opportunity.

Mr. Pattison studied political science, economics and urban policy at the State University of New York at Oswego.  He has a Masters Degree in Organization and Management from Antioch University, Antioch New England Graduate School.  He lives on Troy’s East Side with his wife, Laura Amos, and has two children, Edward and Mary.


Ann M. Thane
Director of Local Government Services

Ann M. Thane has been appointed Director of Local Government Services at the Department of State by Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. 

Ms. Thane served as the Mayor of the City of Amsterdam, New York from 2008-2015. During her tenure, her administration secured $30 million dollars in stimulus funding and grants, renegotiated long-term water distribution agreements between the City of Amsterdam and Town of Florida as well as a sales tax redistribution agreement with Montgomery County, and upgraded the city’s bond rating to A3. She saw to the strategic rehabilitation of the city’s water, sewer and storm water distribution systems and partnered with surrounding municipalities to create one of NYS’s first land banks. She developed award-winning promotional materials and Amsterdam’s first website, focused revitalization efforts heavily on historic preservation of significant buildings, parks and neighborhoods, and instituted public safety and beautification initiatives to preserve the quality of life of the city’s residents.

She is currently a NYS Commissioner for Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and a federally-appointed Commissioner for the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. She was an active participant on the Executive Board of the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council for five years. She was an Executive Board member of the New York Conference of Mayors for seven years and served as President of the organization in 2015. She has been a strident community activist and advocate for Amsterdam's waterfront revitalization and downtown redevelopment for seventeen years. 

Prior to serving as Mayor, Ms. Thane was the Director of the Walter Elwood Museum for seven years. Under her direction, the Museum was recognized by the NYS Council on the Arts as an establishment that demonstrated organizational excellence and should serve as a model for other small, developing institutions in the state.

Ms. Thane began her professional career as freelance graphic artist and worked in the Northern NJ area and NYS Capital District for twenty years. She attended college at the University of Delaware with a focus on Fine Art and Art History. She lives in Amsterdam, NY with her husband, Peter and is the mother of two children, Ian and Sarah.

Bios of Local Government Staff

Patricia Burke
Patricia Burke is a Land Use Training Specialist with the New York State Department of State.  Prior to her service at the Department of State, she worked at the New York State Office of Real Property Services.  Ms. Burke holds a master’s degree in Regional Planning from the State University of New York at Albany, with an environmental concentration that studied wind turbine planning considerations, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from St. John Fisher College in Rochester.  Prior to her public service, she was an editor for a national legal publishing firm. 

Christopher Eastman
Christopher Eastman is manager of the Land Use Training and Technical Assistance program at the New York Department of State. He received a master’s degree in regional planning from the State University of New York at Albany in 2002. The focus of his study included site-value taxation, an alternative approach to property taxation in which land is taxed at a rate greater than the buildings on it in infill areas to provide incentive for development. In addition to having been a planner at the city and county levels, Mr. Eastman has worked for the Preservation League of New York State and on his own, restoring old windows.

Ari Epstein
Ari Epstein is an Excelsior Service Fellow at the NYS Department of State. Ari is planning and implementing new initiatives to enhance local government data management and analytic capabilities. He is also assisting the Division of Local Government services in program evaluation and adoption of new technologies. Prior to joining state service, Ari was an assistant director at Cornell University responsible for shared campus governance services. Ari holds a BS from Cornell University where he studied biology, classics, and law, and a MPA and CAS in Conflict Resolution from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University where he studied government finance and innovation management.

Christopher Grant
Christopher Grant is a Land Use Training Specialist with the New York State Department of State, which is responsible for administering the Local Government Efficiency (LGE) program. This program provides financial and technical assistance to improve the efficiency of local governments. Mr. Grant joined the Department of State in 2007 after working in the banking industry, where he was a Director in charge of commercial real estate lending. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Urban and Economic Geography from the University of Toronto, a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and recently completed a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning at the University at Albany, SUNY.

Catherine M. Hamlin
Catherine Hamlin has been with the Department of State as a Land Use Training Specialist since 2007.  Previously, she worked as the Washington County Planner for more than five years.  Catherine earned both her Bachelor of Arts Degree and her Master’s Degree from the State University of New York at Albany.  Her post-graduate course work focused on urban issues and planning, with independent study in the areas of smart growth and new urbanism.  Catherine resides in Glens Falls where she has been active in her community and the region, serving on various boards and committees, including the Glens Falls City Planning Board; the Queensbury/Glens Falls Joint Committee on Smart Growth; the Champlain Watershed Improvement Coalition of New York; and the Adirondack Resource, Conservation and Development Council. 

Linda King
Linda King is a Land Use Training Specialist with the Department of State's (DOS) Division of Local Government. Ms. King previously worked in the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) as a Program Manager for Public Employee Federation (PEF) member training programs.  Before joining GOER, she worked in DOS’s Division of Coastal Resources on local waterfront revitalization plans, education and outreach. Linda was previously employed by the Troy School District, where she worked as a Secondary Education Social Studies Teacher. She has also worked as an Environmental Planner for the Albany County Environmental Management Council, and was employed by Champagne Associates Transportation Engineering Firm. Linda has a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Environmental Science from Plattsburgh State University College of New York, a Master of Arts in Planning from Arizona State University, and Certification as a Secondary Education Social Studies Teacher from Siena College.

George W. Korchowsky
George Korchowsky is a Land Use Training Specialist (LUTS II) with the Department of State’s Division of Local Government.  He works for the New York State Appalachian Regional Commission program, a 13-State program that promotes socioeconomic development throughout the spine of the Appalachian Mountains.  George joined the Department of State in September 2007.  Prior to that, he had been a finance professional with over 15 years of Wall Street financial analysis and advisory experience, including eight years as a ratings analyst with Standard & Poor’s.  In addition, George is a recently retired Navy Reserve officer, retiring as a Captain in 2007, and he served for 12 years as an appointed member of one of New York City’s Community Boards.  George has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science (International Affairs) and Naval Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Business Administration in Management from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). He has also been on the faculty of Albany Academy’s Social Studies Department  and of Siena College’s Department of Finance.

Robert Roeckle
Robert Roeckle is Land Use Training Specialist with the New York State Department of State assigned to the Local Government Efficiency program.  Mr. Roeckle presents training programs and provides technical assistance to local municipal officials on government efficiency, intermunicipal cooperation and land use planning.  Prior to joining New York State in 2007, Mr. Roeckle spent 21 years as a Building Inspector, Code Enforcement Officer and Zoning Enforcement Officer; most recently for the Town of Wilton, administering both the Building Code and the Zoning Ordinance for the town and providing review of all planning and zoning applications to the town.  He is a graduate of the State University at Buffalo and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design. 

Joann Ryan
Joann Ryan is a Land Use Training Specialist with the New York State Department of State’s Office of Local Government, Coastal Resources and Community Sustainability.  She is a grant administrator for the Local Government Efficiency program, a statewide program for municipalities sharing services and the New York City Watershed Partnership and Protection Council, an agency assisting the New York City Watershed communities protect the City’s water supply.   Ms. Ryan’s public sector experience also includes serving as a legislative analyst in the New York State Senate and as principal planning staff for the City of Albany Board of Zoning Appeals.  Joann returns to public service after a ten year stint working in the fast paced telecommunications industry performing all phases of site acquisition, project planning and development.

Kevin Schwenzfeier
Kevin Schwenzfeier is a Land Use Training Specialist with the New York Department of State’s Division of Local Government.  He provides training and grant assistance to local municipal officials on government efficiency and planning.  Prior to joining the Department in 2016, Mr. Schwenzfeier spent 3 years with the City of Troy Department of Public Utilities as a GIS Coordinator for water and sewer infrastructure.  Kevin created an interactive online mapping interface capable of being updated through any mobile device.  He also worked as a Regional Planner with the Northwest Vermont Regional Planning Commission where he was project manager for the regional brownfields program, energy efficiency committee leader, led Town Master Plan Updates, and was a member of the Healthy Communities Consortium.  Mr. Schwenzfeier holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from the University of New Hampshire with a focus on Environmental Conservation.  He earned a Master’s of Regional Planning from SUNY at Albany in 2009; specializing in Community, Environmental, and Land Use Planning.

Erin Thomas
Erin, a Local Government Specialist, has presented over two-hundred and forty courses in her nearly ten years with the Division of Local Government. A seasoned planner and trainer, she also serves as a technical resource to local government officials. Prior to her service with the Department of State, she worked for Cohoes, a small city in Upstate New York, from 2003-2007. As Administrator for the Cohoes Local Development Corporation, her work focused on developing support services for new and existing businesses, and administering grants for residential and commercial rehabilitation, primarily in the downtown business district. As City Planner and Zoning Enforcement Officer, she was responsible for oversight of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. Her contributions also included assistance with a city-wide rezoning that took effect in mid-2006. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Urban Studies & Planning from the State University at Albany.

Carl Ublacker
Carl Ublacker is a Land Use Training Specialist with the New York State Department of State, Division of Local Government.  He holds a B.A. in Environmental Science with a study option in Natural Resources, Planning and Management  from SUNY Plattsburgh. A former National Park Ranger, Carl also previously worked for the Department of Environmental Conservation. In his spare time, Carl teaches and practices karate at a nonprofit martial arts dojo.

Kyle Wilber
Kyle Wilber is a Municipal Management Consultant with the New York State Department of State.  He has dedicated the majority of his professional career, as well as much of his public life to local government service.  This has included the promotion of sustainable communities through programs like the New York City Watershed Memorandum of Agreement and the New York State Quality Communities Initiative.  Currently, Kyle is responsible for the implementation of the Local Government Efficiency program to assist local governments identify opportunities to reduce costs and increase the efficiencies of local service delivery.   He is also the New York State Program Manager, for the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state-local partnership that promotes community development throughout the spine of the Appalachian Mountains.  In his free time he is very active in local government activities in his home community, currently serving as the Chairman of the Town of Ghent Zoning Board of Appeals and as a Lieutenant in the Ghent Volunteer Fire Company.    Kyle holds a Bachelors Degree in Geography and Urban Planning from the University of Binghamton. 

John-David Wood (J-D)
J-D Wood is a Land Use Training Specialist with the New York State Department of State. He received a master’s degree in Regional Planning from the State University of New York at Albany in 2003, and holds a B.A. in Behavioral Sciences from SUNY Plattsburgh. A former National Park Ranger and Parks & Recreation seasoned veteran (prior to his career in planning), J-D applies his passion for open space, smart growth and preservation of natural and historic resources to his current work. J-D has worked for several Capital Region planning firms, local government planning and advisory boards.