My neighbor, Stephanie Paulmeno, is running for State representative in the 150th district in Connecticut. Over the course of 13 years, I have had the opportunity to speak with her on a wide range of public interests as her career has evolved from her position at Nathaniel Witherell where she worked as Director of Nursing and with a year as Administrator, to her position at Town Hall as Community Health Planner for the Greenwich Department of Health where she was instrumental in educating the community on issues like Lyme Disease and emergency plans. At the time, for my purposes, I simply knew Stephanie was the go to person for straight information on steps that needed to be taken for prevention and preparation.
What I did not know then, but do now, is that Stephanie also coordinated and developed the Bioterrorism Plan, SARS Plan, and Pandemic Plan for the Greenwich Department of health and sat for several years on the Tri-State Bioterrorism task force that met in NYC. In addition, Stephanie spearheaded and brought to fruition an unusually high number of initiatives that have benefited huge and generally underrepresented segments of our population: women, single mothers, the elderly, the less well off. She sees the people who are so often invisible in an affluent area like our district. She advocates for those who don’t have the time, skills, power, and resources or know how to represent themselves.
Her projects, usually unfunded, were successful because Stephanie is one of the few, exceptional people who works for the government because she sees a need, because she wants to serve; NOT because she wants to posture, hear herself speak, get lauded in the press or at social functions. Both she and her husband, a Vietnam Vet who paid a hard price for his service, have spent their adult lives in the service of helping others.
Stephanie is successful because she keeps her eye on the goal. She persuades. She collaborates. She cuts through the nonsense without ego or hubris until the job gets done. Her style is quiet, determined, pleasant, informed, and effective. As a result, she has rallied diverse groups from Westchester to Hartford, and from a variety of public, private, government and political circles to come together to achieve goals on behalf of the unserved or underserved. Her strength is in helping motivate others with power to acknowledge and work towards collective good outcomes.
Stephanie, a registered Democrat, was asked to run for this office by the Republicans Livvy Floren, and by Lyle Gibbons, who held the office before her. It would be easy to see how they might not have thought of her as a Democrat because of Stephanie’s reputation to work well with everyone, built over the years of working on diverse boards, advisory boards, working groups, councils and commissions from across the state. She has served with well over thirty agencies and groups, often for many years at a time. These have included colleges, many diverse health and social service organizations, and hospitals among others giving her both depth and breadth in experience that other candidates do not possess.