Each week, the Abington News is asking the three residents running for the board of selectmen a question to help voters better understand them as candidates. Election Day is Saturday, April 24.
This week’s question was: What experiences from your life (personal, professional, volunteer) helps make you a good candidate for the Board of Selectmen?
FAMILY: Husband, Eric Henrikson; Daughter, Erin Hollander
OCCUPATION: Following over 25 years in the Human Resources profession, I’ve been a small business owner for the past 10 years in the HVAC, HR consulting, property management & retail fields.
CIVIC EXPERIENCE (volunteer): I’ve been a volunteer on the Abington Board of Sewer Commissioners for the past 7 years. Last year during the 2020 elections I volunteered at the polls to help ease the workload due to the pandemic concerns.
CIVIC EXPERIENCE (government): I’ve held roles at two federal government agencies, starting my career as a civilian employee, Clerk-Typist GS-2, at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station (1978 to 1985). I was a Human Resources Specialist GS-12 for the Smithsonian Institution (Astrophysical Observatory) in Cambridge (1990 to 1999).
The common theme in my life experiences (personal, professional, volunteer) is “tenacity”. In each aspect I’ve pushed myself relentlessly to achieve my goals. As referenced above I graduated high school and went to work for the Department of Navy in 1978 as a Clerk-Typist (an entry level government job). I worked very hard to climb the ladder in that field and left the HR profession having been the Director of Human Resources in my last 2 roles at Shields MRI and Millennium Partners Sports Club Management.
Over my life I’ve volunteered in a number of capacities including being a Member of the Board of Sewer Commissioners. When asked 7 years ago if I would fill a vacant seat I said yes. What did I know about a municipal sewer system?…absolutely nothing, but I volunteered out of civic duty. I was appointed to the role by the BoS to finish another’s term. I subsequently ran for two additional terms. Because I didn’t want to leave my team members short handed, I recruited my husband to run for the seat that I am vacating to pursue a seat on the BoS. Thus, I hope that you will check off the two boxes for Henriksons on the ballot!
Personally, I would like to highlight two successes. First and foremost, raising my child. When she was born 29 years ago, the biggest expectation that I had for myself as a mother, was that she would grow up to be a “hard working, good, caring person”. She blew my expectations out of the water, and I’d like to think that I was an important role model for her. Despite being diagnosed with a chronic disease and countless orthopedic surgeries as a child, she pushed herself beyond physical and emotional limits to achieve her goals. She loved attending Abington Public Schools and some may remember her as the School Committee Student Member for her class. She graduated valedictorian from Stonehill College and took an accelerated graduate program at Boston College to earn her Masters in Accountancy (while concurrently studying for and passing the CPA boards). She now owns a home and works in Abington and my hope is to recruit her to run for a seat on an Abington Board sometime in the near future! On another personal note, I started running about 30 years ago on a dare. I went out that night and ran two miles…I could barely walk the next day! Again, I pushed on and continued running for 30 years. Like my professional career I continued challenging myself up to and including achieving a “qualifying time” to run the Boston Marathon. I don’t run those long distances any longer, but you have/will see me running the main streets and back roads of Abington…even if it’s at a much slower pace!
To circle back to “tenacity” I will approach a seat on the BoS in the same manner. There will be a learning and experience curve as there is in the beginning of everything. I hope that my prior life experiences show that I have the passion and will to serve the people of Abington. I am semi-retired and have no other agenda in this role other than to serve the residents and tax payers for the betterment of the town and the community.
FAMILY: Immediate family, me, my wife Meaghan, and 4 Children, Makenzie (9), Madelyn (6), Axel (4), Skyler (2). I also have 3 brothers and a sister, with countless nieces and nephews, most of whom live in Abington.
OCCUPATION: Driver/Manager, Chemstation Boston
CIVIC EXPERIENCE: Member, Knight of Columbus 2006-Current, including serving as Deputy Grand Knight, and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors; Member, Fraternal Order of Eagles 2000-Current; Member, Eastern Massachusetts Association of Interscholastic Football Officials 2006-Current; Member, South Shore Baseball Umpires Association 2018-Current; Member, Abington Board of Health 2017-2018; Member, Abington Board of Selectmen 2018-Current, (Currently serving as Chairman of the Board); also serving as the Selectmen’s appointee on the New School Building Committee, and Capital Projects Committee.
Growing up in town, I learned at a young age how special of a community Abington is. When I was 5 years old my younger brother was diagnosed with Childhood Leukemia. I saw first hand the community rally around our family in our time of need. From the countless fundraisers put on by local businesses, to the endless dinners provided to our family from our neighbors as my mother commuted in and out of Boston Children’s Hospital while my father was working two full time jobs, I saw how great the people of Abington are. Since then I have seen on countless occasions the town rally around other families in need, it’s things like this that make me want to serve the town that has given me so much.
I have for many years worked on volunteer boards of numerus organizations, This experience has taught me the teamwork and compromise needed to work together for the greater good of the community at large. My work with the Board of Health and Board of Selectmen, has taught me the inner workings of Town Government. Although I have only served on the Board of Selectmen the past three years, a lot has happened in that time. From replacing the Town Manager to dealing with a worldwide pandemic, I have learned how to deal with difficult situations, and make tough decisions for the betterment of Abington.
While serving on the Board of Selectmen, we have had the privilege of presenting Town Meeting (with the Town Manager, and Finance Committee) 2 budgets with no cuts, and adding money to our stabilization fund. This fiscal responsibility will most likely allow us to present a level services budget this cycle while most communities will be forced to make difficult cuts in services due to loss of revenue from Covid-19. As we head into what will surly be difficult times for municipalities financially, the town of Abington will need proven leadership, experienced in making tough decisions, to move us forward.
FAMILY: Single (Openly Gay); Father, Paul; Mother; Denise; Siblings, Nate and Owen; Nana, ‘Honey’ Hagerty, and our Goldendoodle, Wally
OCCUPATION: Human Resources Clerk/Administration – The Executive Office of Health and Human Services
CIVIC EXPERIENCE (Government or Volunteer): Vice Chairman of the Abington Board of Health: 2018 to Present, Chairman of the Abington Capital Planning Committee: Feb. 2021 to Present, Substance Awareness Advocacy: 2018 to Present; Campaign Manager for Alyson Sullivan for State Representative: May 2018 to January 2019, Alter Server at St. Bridget’s Parish: 2007 to 2011, Community Theatre Actor all over the South Shore: 2009 to Present.
I am firmly confident that my experiences serving the Town of Abington as Vice Chairman of the Board of Health, as well as my experience in human resources, management, sales and communications in the private sector, and my commitment to advocate for ‘a better future, a better Abington’ makes me a strong candidate for the Board of Selectmen.
I learn several key lessons in management and leadership climbing the ladder at my first job in a fast-food restaurant to becoming the youngest Acting General Manager on the South Shore. It was my duty as Acting GM to balance our branch’s budget, grow our revenue, staff our needs efficiently and live up to the company and customer’s standards. While other branches in our district struggled to be fiscally responsible with their budgets, failed to generate new revenue, keep morale high amongst the staff and lost positive response ratings from the community, I did the exact opposite. As a leader I kept control of our budget, generated new revenue through service improvements, continued to grow our services, and we maintained a strong rating with our community. Under my leadership, my branch was number one in the district.
My expertise in Human Resources has taught me that a good leader doesn’t just talk, they listen as well. I have a proven record of listening to the needs of the community and then serving them to the best of my abilities. I have proven this both in the private sector and in public service. Communication is key to successful governing. The more our governing bodies are transparent and open to the public, the better informed and engaged people will be and the better Abington will be. As most of Abington can attest to, I am no stranger to transparency and open communication. As Vice Chairman of the Board of Health, I have kept my promise to Abington to keep the residents, taxpayers, seniors, students, and all employed by the Town informed of everything and anything public health related. Through social media, meetings, and other forms of community involvement, I have proven to be a transparent leader for Abington.
During my tenure with the Board of Health, we had a trash and recycling strike, new vaping regulations, a plastic bag ban, substance abuse issues and the COVID-19 pandemic fell into our department’s lap. When you serve as a public official, no matter the issue that falls at your feet, it is your duty to step up to the plate and be a leader. When Abington faced the trash and recycling strike, I kept track of missed pickups, engaged with residents to keep them informed of the developing situation and communicated with Republic services to keep their contracted commitment to keep our streets clean. Even when things seemed difficult, I worked with our Health Director and Town Manager to open up a composting site which was staffed by volunteers. In addition to this the Town rented dumpsters so that in the event that a neighborhood got skipped by accident the residents could dispose of their overflowing trash.
When the legislature passed new vaping regulations, I worked with our health department to make sure we were following what needed to be done. In 2019, our town had a citizen proposed plastic bag ban. At first glance, I was not in favor of the ban because I feared the cost burden it would have on our town businesses. Realizing that the proposal would pass regardless of my personal opinion, I worked to find a compromise that would lower the burden on our local businesses. Before taking office I never realized the impact of substance abuse on our families and community. When I became more informed, I quickly started Substance Awareness chats at our Board meetings to spread awareness.
In 2020 and continuing until now the Health Department’s primary concern has been dealing with the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. We had to learn on the spot about this new, contagious and lethal disease. Under our leadership, we enacted a local facial coverings mandate before the Commonwealth made the statewide mandate. The Abington Board of Health took early steps in large stores to safely reduce traffic. When new regulations came down from the State House regarding COVID restrictions, we kept our businesses in the loop. While at the same time keeping a dialog with our businesses to see how we could help them survive during the pandemic. In addition, I made it a mission to keep the Town informed of everything COVID-19 related through social media, meetings and other forms of community involvement.
Both in the private sector and in public service every time I’ve been asked to step up to the plate, I have. These experiences have prepared me to be a strong leader as a Selectman.