Even on the occasion of her final report to the Board of Selectmen ahead of her departure as Newtown’s Recovery Program leader, General Electric’s Anne Alzapiedi chose to promote her work and her colleagues along with many other officials, town staffers, and residents who inspired her to return to the community day after day.
But it was those colleagues, officials, and staffers who refused to let Ms Alzapiedi go without paying tribute to her expertise, organizational skills, and diplomatic demeanor prior to the April 21 Board of Selectmen’s meeting.
Her GE colleague Elizabeth Rallo summed it up this way: “Anne brought not only the best that GE had to offer, but she brought her heart.”
Her comments were echoed by Police Chief Michael Kehoe, Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold, Board of Education Chair Debbie Leidlein, volunteer Bob Geckle, and via a letter submitted by Permanent Memorial Commission Chairman Kyle Lyddy.
Selectmen Will Rodgers and James Gaston, Sr, also provided warm remarks, and much praise was conveyed by First Selectman Pat Llodra, who worked side-by-side with Ms Alzapiedi throughout her year of service.
After introducing Ms Alzapiedi’s daughter, Katie, and mother, Arlene, the first selectman talked about how she quickly bonded with the General Electric specialist.
“We’re very proud of what she’s done for us, and know that the value the GE team has added to our work and to us personally in terms of the way we’ve grown in these relationships cannot be overstated,” Mrs Llodra said.
Ticking off a list of attributes, Mrs Llodra said she looked on Ms Alzapiedi as “a trusted colleague,” and admired her “wisdom, patience exceptional work ethic, and that right balance of heart and head.”
“This is human work, this is about people, and I think Anne, Elizabeth, Joni, and Tom [Kelleher] brought that balance to us,” Mrs Llodra said referring to all four GE team members who served the community.
Only Ms Capoccitti will remain at the Board of Education office until the end of the school year.
“It’s been very special for us,” Mrs Llodra added.
In his letter, Mr Lyddy thanked Ms Alzapiedi for organizing and guiding the establishment of the committee.
“Your ability to organize our group of 12 strangers from scratch has been extremely important and beneficial,” Mr Lyddy wrote, adding that he and his group had no manual to guide them in their work.
“Most importantly, you have shown us the importance of listening to each other, and understanding that there might not be a right answer,” Mr Lyddy wrote.
Mr Geckle worked with Ms Alzapiedi early on after her arrival, responding to corporate donors.
“She clearly was an important partner to me,” he said. “Anne is very organized and focused, even in the face of extreme anxiety and despair.”
Mr Geckle labeled Ms Alzapiedi a “communicator extraordinaire.”
“She would ask us, ‘What do you want to say?’ and the consistency, and directness and clarity of your communications were an immense help to this community,” Mr Geckle added.
Ms Mangold described Ms Alzapiedi as a “smart and wonderful leader,” with the ability to “take a panoramic view, slice it down and just get the whole picture and come back with everything we needed.”
“You were so humble, and you were so happy to do it,” Ms Mangold observed.
“What a team,” Chief Kehoe remarked. “It wasn’t very long before I was convinced you had talent galore.”
The chief said that his department’s stress levels were exceptionally high when Ms Alzapiedi arrived. “I don’t want to see you go — we don’t want to see any of you go,” he added.
Ms Leidlein marveled at Ms Alzapiedi’s organizational skills, and her ability to “bring us all cohesively together.”
“I don’t know how we could have gone through many of the emotional events following December 14,” she said. “We give a lot of credit to the [GE] team that really walked us through that and held us up. So many things were weighing heavily on us.”
Mr Gaston said Ms Alzapiedi’s work was a reflection on the town, on herself, and on General Electric.
“We’re extremely grateful GE appointed you, and for your leadership role, and we’re particularly grateful you assumed that role,” Mr Gaston said.
Mr Rodgers said he was pleased to work with someone so humble and low key.
“Not merely content to be behind the scenes, but you were able to recognize the importance of working behind the scenes,” Mr Rodgers said. “I knew when your hand was involved with something — and it was remarkable how much of a key player you are, even though you were under the radar.”
Following parting remarks by Ms Rallo, Ms Capoccitti thanked her colleague for her “grace under pressure.”
“It’s hands-on leadership -— you’re always there to guide, and coach and counsel with a smile on your face. You can feel the virtual arms around you every time we walked in,” she added.
Mrs Llodra concluded the recognition event with a proclamation honoring Ms Alzapiedi, and presented her with a commemorative inscribed pewter dish.