Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell names new Director of Tourism To head Department of Tourism created by Legislature
Tracey Walsh, a lifelong Carmel resident with deep knowledge of the county and a clear vision for its potential, will be the new Putnam County Director of Tourism, County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced Wednesday.
The appointment was made after the Putnam County Legislature officially established the Department of Tourism at its Tuesday meeting, bringing responsibility for promoting the county in house. The vote was unanimous.
“We can do better at tourism and I think we will,” Legislative Chair Joseph Castellano said after the vote. “It will be better to have a Putnam County employee that will be able to attend our meetings and listen to our concerns and hopefully we can point this person in the right direction for the people of Putnam County.”
Walsh, the Senior Community Development Manager for The American Cancer Society was selected from a large pool of applicants to oversee the county’s new tourism department.
“Sometimes the perfect person is someone close to home,” Odell said. “Tracey Walsh is smart, fast-thinking and goal-oriented. No one knows our communities better. We are looking forward to getting the word out about all the good things there are to see and do in Putnam County.”
A Syracuse University graduate, Walsh, plans to leverage the county’s assets – five Metro-North stops, unique shops and restaurants, active community arts groups – to lure day-trippers and more to Putnam.
“I’m very local and very proud,” Walsh said. “This county is a gem. Tilly Foster Farm is a jewel. The Great Swamp is a birder’s paradise. Cold Spring offers a vibrant Main Street. From hiking to history, there is just so much here.”
During her tenure at The American Cancer Society, where she worked for nearly a decade after starting as a volunteer, Walsh helped organize Relay for Life events in several communities and worked with stakeholders from one end of the county to the other. She retired from the Cancer society to take the tourism director position.
“There wasn’t much that could get me to leave the American Cancer Society, but the opportunity to showcase the county I love was too good to pass up,” Walsh said. “This is my dream job.”
Her salary will be $80,000.
The department will be funded with a combination of county funds and a matching grant from the state’s I Love NY campaign — the same budget amount that had been allotted Putnam’s now defunct non-profit tourism agency. The Legislature transferred the money to the new county Tourism Department with a second unanimous vote Tuesday night.
“I’m glad we did this in the nick of time,” said Legislator Amy E. Sayegh, chair of the Economic Development Committee. “August is the cutoff date to receive the matching grant from the I Love NY Campaign.”
Walsh is not even waiting until she starts to get the buzz going. She is already planning an event that will bring former residents back to Putnam – the 40th Reunion of her Carmel High School graduating class, to be held in the Barn at Tilly Foster Farm.