For more than a decade preceding the Sandy Hook tragedy, Easton resident and GE Capital staffer Elizabeth Rallo engaged herself in the business of producing or analyzing numbers, systems, and data.
But those analytical talents translated expertly into the many hands-on skills she brought to bear on behalf of Newtown in the nearly one year she served the community coordinating special projects and facilitating communications among various groups and project managers post-12/14.
On April 7, just a few days before the end of her formal period of service in town, Ms Rallo was honored by First Selectman Pat Llodra, the Board of Selectmen, and a number of town department heads and agency representatives who worked beside the GE logistics expert during the past 12 months.
One by one over the course of about 25 minutes Monday, representatives from Newtown’s Police Department, Parks and Recreation, the Legislative Council, Consigli Construction, Sandy Hook Promise, the town clerk’s office, and the regional United Way, along with each selectman expressed their thanks and appreciation for Ms Rallo’s efforts.
Throughout the activity, Ms Rallo sat smiling beside her son James, who had joined her for the occasion.
Mrs Llodra opened the bittersweet program noting how extraordinarily valuable her presence has been to the community, while expressing regret that her term of service is nearly over.
“I have learned so much working with Elizabeth,” Mrs Llodra said. “She brings a sense of herself, and a confidence, and accomplishment and professionalism and fun to the environment here. It’s a great loss for us, Elizabeth, and I do hope you find your way back to Newtown at some point.”
Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob, who is also a Sandy Hook School staff member, recalled from the first days Ms Rallo arrived in town her “infectious smile and good nature” touched everyone she encountered.
“Anybody who said ‘I have a problem with this,’ was responded to with an offer of help,” Ms Jacob said. “It’s been such a joy having you around. Thank you for all you gave to Newtown; we’ll miss you.”
Suzy DeYoung, co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, first recognized Ms Rallo as someone with extraordinary organizational skills. “You have managed to help us come together with other groups in a way so we can collaborate,” Ms DeYoung said.
Consigli Construction’s Sandy Hook School Project Manager Geralyn Hoerauf first met Ms Rallo when the company came into town last May to begin preliminary work on rebuilding the facility.
“I know how hard it is to do project management. And for Elizabeth to come from GE Capital and to jump right into a construction management team…was really extraordinary,” Ms Hoerauf said.
Newtown/Sandy Hook Community Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Barahona said the progress that the foundation has made in just the past six months was a tribute to the talents Ms Rallo brought to the table.
“You have been a real partner to me after I came to this community not knowing anyone, and you helped me get a sense of this community,” she said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.”
Captain Joe Rios thanked Ms Rallo on behalf of the entire Newtown Police Department, detailing a number of special projects she became engaged with during her brief tenure.
“On a personal note, when I met Elizabeth I could tell she was high energy. But when she came to the department — and you know we have a lot of type-A personalities — Elizabeth fit right in,” Capt Rios said. “I think the thing I’m going to miss most is your compassion. We could tell from day one that you cared. We were blessed with the time that you were here.”
When Elizabeth Goehring from United Way of Western Connecticut heard that Newtown would be getting several GE representatives including Ms Rallo, she was relieved knowing the community would be in good hands.
“Not only did Elizabeth come with skills, she came with a heart,” Ms Goehring said, adding that it was Ms Rallo’s heart that served her best as she was interacting with various agencies and personalities.
Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold referred to Ms Rallo as the “superglue” that helped the department stick together juggling all the extracurricular post-12/14 events besides the full boat of annual department activities that occur in the spring and summer.
Ms Mangold zeroed in on how Ms Rallo stepped in to take the pressure off when the group Big Time Rush offered to come and perform in town.
“You were beyond our expectations,” Ms Mangold said. “Elizabeth would come in with her laptop and get everyone together with confidence and heart and warmth. And that was just one project you helped us with. The list goes on and on.”
Robert Geckle, who worked closely with Ms Rallo coordinating corporate grants and gifts, half joked in a letter that he exercised all his efforts and connections to “prevent her return to GE.” But acknowledged that he accepts the fact that she will be returning to the company that helped bring her to the community in the first place.
In reading her proclamation, Ms Llodra noted the diversity of projects Ms Rallo took on.
“And to do so with the grace and the sense of humor and patience Elizabeth has presented — and some of the circumstances have been quite stressful — has really been a delight,” Ms Llodra said. “We are so blessed to have had you here.”
Selectman James Gaston, Sr, remarked that GE’s former motto was “We Bring Good Things To Life,” but said he sees the company differently because of Ms Rallo’s presence in Newtown.
“I look at it differently. It’s not that you brought good things to life, you brought life to good things,” he said. “You were invaluable for getting all those good things going.”
Selectman Will Rodgers had only met Ms Rallo once before April 7, but he said he came to admire her efforts through the contacts of many others who worked with her regularly.
“I regard that as a good thing — because you aren’t worried about capable people,” Mr Rodgers said. “You are a capable person, you are obviously a jack of all trades, with an uncommon interpersonal skill set that applies to all people. It’s really impressive that one person can be called upon to assist in so many different facets. Newtown thanks you for it.”