We have some bittersweet news to share with you. Later this year, Melissa Fisher, our Chief Operating Officer, will be moving on from Friends of the High Line when she and her husband will be undertaking a unique land development opportunity in Virginia.
Since joining the organization, Melissa has brought a unique spirit and leadership to her job, embodying the High Line ethos in all her projects and endeavors. She helped shape what the High Line is today and we are sad to see her move on.
She joined our organization as Deputy Director of Horticulture in 2008. Her appointment came a year before the first section of the park had opened to the public, and Friends of the High Line was just taking responsibility for operating the park in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. Almost overnight we needed to double our staff, procure our park operations equipment, open a field office, and greatly expand our responsibilities to care for this extraordinary public space.
Melissa moved quickly to prepare the park for a smooth public opening. Every day she rode her motorcycle from Brooklyn to Chelsea, arriving early at the office to work on hiring, budgets, and mobilizing a team to manage the maintenance, horticulture, and mechanical systems at the High Line, and setting up processes and procedures to facilitate the park’s daily operations. During this time she wore many hats, and demonstrated exemplary management skills and a deep passion for the High Line project.
Shortly after the public opening of the High Line in 2009, Melissa moved into the Director role, where she continued to build the team, manage the park’s day-to-day operations, and conquer new unforeseen challenges with maintaining a public space elevated 30 feet above the street. Working with a team of dedicated managers and staff, she led us through the successful opening of the second section of the High Line last spring, and since her promotion to Chief Operating Officer, she has skillfully built out the role, establishing strong coordination across the expanded organization, so that the next candidate will be able to quickly pick up where she is leaving off.
This year Melissa’s hard work and dedication has been acknowledged in many exciting ways – she was named to Crain’s New York Business list of 40 Under 40 Rising Stars and she recently received 2012 Genius Award from Elle Magazine.
We are now beginning the search for her successor.
Though Melissa will stay with us through the fall to help with the transition, we thought we’d take a moment to share a few of our own personal thoughts about her accomplishments and the way she has positively impacted Friends of the High Line.
“One of the hardest parts of working at a great organization that attracts such talented people is when they leave. I will be sad to see Melissa go, but I am excited to watch the next chapter of her life and know she will always be part of the High Line family.”
Robert Hammond, Co-Founder
“Melissa is one of the very rare, natural leaders that anyone would be blessed to work with in any organization. Finding a way to connect with each and every person she works with, she’s gained the respect of many and made us all feel like we could reach for the stars. But she possesses an even rarer ability: making you feel that a mistake is something to learn from and not something to fear.” – Johnny Linville, Horticulture Foreman
“Melissa Fisher is the best kind of boss. She sees the potential in everyone she works with. She sets high standards because she believes people can meet them, and so of course, they do. She is also one of the most gracious ladies I’ve ever known.”
Andi Pettis, Gardener
“The High Line operates the way it does today because of Melissa’s dedication and love. We would not be able to do all that we do on the park if it were not for her endless support.” – Jenny Staley, Manager of Special Projects
“If aliens were to land on the High Line, Melissa's passion, commitment, and dedication to the park would become so evident that the aliens would no doubt start hatching plans for a High Line on their own planet.... and then Melissa would show them how to do it.” – Tim Ries, Visitor Services Manager
“Throughout her career here, Melissa has shown an incredible amount of dedication to both the High Line project and the many people involved. She has served as a mentor to myself and many other members of our operations team. She has guided us through the challenges and accomplishments that come with operating an extraordinary park. Her compassion, thoughtfulness, and incredible work ethic will continue on with every staff member at Friends of the High Line.”
Mike Lampariello, Operations Project Manager