Our Community Spotlight this issue of the Juniper Berry shines on JoAnne Amagrande. JoAnne has been with the NYC Department of Parks since November 1992 and her title, as she worked the ladder of success, is Queens Parks Chief of Staff. She is a lifelong resident of Middle Village, graduating from Christ the King Regional High School and St. John’s University.

Although Jo-Anne has had many career opportunities she has chosen to work in public service. Her responsibility as Queens Chief of Staff involves monitoring approximately $30-$40 million of capital project funds for Queens Parks. She attends local community board meetings and she also tries to attend the meetings of the civic groups within her district to keep her pulse on the needs of the different neighborhoods within her jurisdiction. She makes sure each project meets the needs of the community and, very importantly, that there is a response to the public when they request services.

She works closely with the elected officials within her district to meet their goals, always striving to find funds to supplement Queens Parks’ limited budget. In the current budget crunch, funding is constantly being slashed thereby making her job more challenging. Her hard work and personable demeanor in dealing with people has made her capable of delivering quality capital projects not only in her Middle Village community but also throughout Queens Parks.

The goal of Queens Parks is to provide clean, safe and enjoyable parks and playgrounds as well as the best programs available. JoAnne’s job includes monitoring the large concerts that are sometimes scheduled in the city’s parks, and other special programs offered by Queens Parks.

After twenty-eight years of working for Parks, JoAnne still has the passion that she had when she first began the job. Her biggest joy as Chief of Staff is to turn a rehabilitated park back to the community and seeing smiles and hearing the joy of the children playing in a beautiful new park or playground that she helped bring to fruition.

JoAnne’s roots are firmly planted in Middle Village and she lives right near Juniper Valley Park. Her Mom, Josie, is also a Middle Village resident and a member of local church groups and clubs. JoAnne has maintained her childhood friendships throughout the years and she compares Middle Village to “Mayberry,” a hometown neighborhood, where you still call your friends’ parents “Mr. and Mrs,” stop and say hello on Eliot Avenue, meet and greet people at the Met Supermarket and see your neighbors at the local bank. She thinks of Middle Village as a small town village where people are still concerned about their neighbors.

JoAnne Amagrande is bright, articulate, personable and easy to work with, and the best part is that she knows how to think outside the box so her decisions stay fresh and relevant. We are fortunate to have JoAnne as Queens Parks Chief of Staff and we look forward to seeing her smiling face for many years to come as she continues her goal of keeping our beautiful Queens parks up to date and modern in the face of unprecedented budget cuts. Good luck JoAnne Amagrande!