She’s the first female executive at the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA), and Tara Sullivan feels right at home in the job.
“I love this work — and I love being a female leader in state government,” she says.
From her office in Highland, she helps oversee the five major Hudson Valley bridges: Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Kingston-Rhinecliff, and Rip Van Winkle, as well as the Walkway over the Hudson.
The Red Hook resident grew up in Woodstock and served on the latter’s town board and the Ulster County Legislature, which led to state roles including the governor’s regional representative for the Hudson Valley, and executive director of New York State’s quadricentennial in 2009.
What advice do you have for the next generation of female leaders?
“Always give yourself positive self-talk (no negativity allowed!) and practice it every day. Use your power, and do not be afraid.”
In addition to providing executive support for NYSBA Executive Director Joseph Ruggiero, she says, her favorite parts of the job are the big projects — like the Skywalk, which will provide a pedestrian link to the historic homes of 19th-century artists Frederic Church and Thomas Cole via the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.
Other projects include a solar farm at the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, and museums at the Bear Mountain and Mid-Hudson bridges. In addition to her work with the Bridge Authority, Sullivan heads the nonprofit Historic Bridges of the Hudson Valley, which promotes cultural and architectural awareness of the Valley’s spans.
“Many of us drive over our bridges every day and don’t even think about it. But our agency is proud of them, and to me, these bridges are the economic linchpin of the Hudson Valley.”