Getting to Know Joanne Yepsen: the Mayor of Saratoga Springs
Joanne Yepsen’s devotion to Saratoga Springs and journey to public service began after graduating from Hartwick College. Shortly after, she started her career at Skidmore, serving as the Director of Public Events and the Director of Trustee Affairs and College Events in the Development Office. She later worked in the Office of the President from 1985 – 2001. Today, she is one of the biggest mavens in Saratoga Springs, serving her second term as Mayor of Saratoga Springs.
When recollecting her fond memories of Skidmore, Mayor Yepsen emphasized, “During my time at the College, it was obvious to me that the Skidmore students are really special. Creative thought and independent thought is needed to build a successful city.” She also pointed out the fact that several students helped with her mayoral campaign in the past, and she was very thankful for that.
After working at Skidmore College for over sixteen years, Mayor Yepsen proceeded to get more involved in the schools her children attended in Saratoga and even served on chair boards of the local hospital and art center.
In 2003, the Democratic Party asked Mayor Yepsen to run for office on the city council, but she politely declined because her kids were too young. She had also honed in on building the foundation of her company COLTIVARE, a consulting firm that works with nonprofit organizations and startups to develop strategic plans, board recruitment, and training.
In 2005, she decided to run for county supervisor for Saratoga Springs, ousting two long-time Republicans from the county board. With her political knowledge, she slowly built a constituency base and ran for Mayor after serving on the board for eight years.
Mayor Yepsen highlighted her passion for Saratoga Springs, saying, “Community service is a big component of this office. It’s more than a job, it’s a lifestyle.” Her day-to-day duties vary from meeting with community members about development ideas, to focusing on city position appointments, to working on significant partnerships with cities across the nation. One of the many developments Mayor Yepsen is ecstatic about is the partnership the city is forming with the Mayor of Nashville, Tennessee--a city known for its intricate music history--to further the music industry in Saratoga Springs.
Mayor Yepsen's numerous accomplishments include appointing the first woman judge in the city, starting a human rights task force, formulating plans to build a downtown connector from Skidmore to the Saratoga State park, taking initiatives to end homelessness, and launching a Charter Commission.
When devising new plans for Saratoga Springs, Mayor Yepsen stressed the significance Skidmore students have in the community, “Skidmore college students can offer so much as individuals to make it an even better city. I see you as residents and integral components of policy decisions, legislative proposals brought to council, and strategic planning done in the city.”
Mayor Yepsen further emphasized the significance of the student body by encouraging students to partake in the political process of the city and be aware of the city’s issues. “When it comes to elections, of course Skidmore students should have an important voice in those elections, because it’s your city too,” she said. “Saratoga Springs is a very safe place to explore your interests and get involved,” continued Mayor Yepsen.
Wishing to attract young professionals, Mayor Yepsen encourages students to apply for internships at her office, saying she will be accessible to students and will empower them by ensuring that their creativity and good ideas get utilized as much as possible. “A lot of my environmental work done in my 12 years in office has been because I had Skidmore students by my side working with me to meet benchmarks,” she said.
Mayor Yepsen concluded by encouraging students to stay connected with her on Facebook. It won’t be hard to find her; she has three pages, she joked, and a Twitter handle: @joanneyepsen.