Around in the Early Days, Bob Kafin is New Chairman of the Adirondack Council

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
By: John F. Sheehan - Adirondack Council Communications Director

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/Forever Wild Day 2015/Bob Kafin.jpg
New Adirondack Council Board Chair, Bob Kafin
(Photo by Erika Bailey)

On July 18 at its annual meeting at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid, the Adirondack Council’s Board of Directors elected Bob Kafin to serve a two-year term as its chairman.

The Council is thrilled to have Bob as our new chairman. He is a highly respected environmental attorney who began his career in the Adirondacks, but made a name for himself nationwide with his legal skills and expertise. Bob is one of the nation’s top environmental lawyers and he cares deeply about the future of the Adirondack Park’s communities and its residents.

Bob knows the Park very well, understands government and politics and works well with people. In addition he is no stranger to local not-for-profit organizations. Bob is a founding board member of Friends of Coles Woods, Glens Falls Action Committee and the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council (LARAC).

A native of suburban Philadelphia, Bob moved to Glens Falls as a young adult, after graduating from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and earning his law degree from Harvard University. Bob was admitted to practice law in New York in 1967.

Decades ago, Bob helped farmers in Schoharie County protect their valley croplands from being flooded by a new dam and helped defeat a plan to build nearly 5,000 homes adjacent to the St. Regis Canoe Area. He oversaw the environmental studies that led to the siting of several sports venues for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. He has helped to build public ski trails in Glens Falls and to enhance the local arts scene.

Since 1971, Kafin has developed expertise in the major federal and state environmental laws, was one of the primary authors of the initial set of regulations implementing the NYS Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR), and among the first lawyers to conduct hearings under the Adirondack Park Agency Act.

From 1991 to 2009, Bob was a member of the senior management team for Proskauer Rose, a law firm in New York City, serving as its Chief Operating Partner for 15 years and also as its general counsel. He is the founder and a member of the firm’s Environmental Group.

Bob has also served as chair/president of Citizens for Clean Air, Council on the Environment of NYC (now known as GrowNYC), Environmental Law Section of the NYS Bar Association, Friends of Crandall Library, Glens Falls Conservation Commission, and Parks & Trails New York. He is also a founder of the Carl Schurz Park Association and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.

Bob currently serves as chair of the Times Square Alliance, the business improvement district for the Times Square neighborhood in Manhattan. In addition, by appointment of the NYC Mayor, he is chair of GrowNYC, the operator of 54 Greenmarkets that bring local produce to the big city, and other environmental conservation programs in New York City.

Also, Bob is serving on the board of directors for the Preservation League of New York State and Parks and Trails New York. Among the other organizations for which he has served on the board of directors are Adirondack Conservancy Committee (now Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy), Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, Broadway Association, Crandall Library, Emma Willard School, Environmental Planning Lobby (now Environmental Advocates), the Hyde Collection, and the Lake George Association.

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/Forever Wild Day 2015/Kafin_Carmel_small.jpg
Former board chair Ann Carmel smiles at remarks
made by newly-elected board Chair Bob Kafin.
(Photo by Erika Bailey)

Bob took the reins of the Adirondack Council from Ann Carmel, who chaired the Council’s board from 2011 to 2015. Ann predicted that Bob will do a splendid job as chairman, and added that the board could not have made a better choice.

Bob complimented Ann’s service during her two terms as chair, noting that she accomplished a great deal in four years. (The position is unpaid and requires a significant commitment of time and energy.) Ann oversaw the search for Executive Director Willie Janeway, and also completed a strategic plan that will guide the Council’s work for years to come. In addition, she also carried out a capital campaign that doubled our Forever Wild Fund from $3 million to more than $6 million, helping to secure the future of the organization. Her leadership, enthusiasm and experience will be missed.

The Adirondack Council’s board of directors and staff are lucky to have Bob as the chair of our organization and look forward to working with him during the next two years.

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Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/john-f-sheehan.jpg

Born and raised in Troy, NY, John Sheehan is a graduate of Catholic Central High School and the State University at Albany (1985; BA). Before joining the Council's staff in 1990, John was the managing editor of the Malone Evening Telegram, just north of the Adirondack Park. Prior to that, he worked as journalist for the Troy Record, (Schenectady) Daily Gazette, Watertown Daily Times and Newsday.

For the past 25 years, John has been the voice of the Adirondack Council on radio and television, and on the pages of local, regional and national media. Sheehan has overseen the production of two films about the Council (The Adirondack Council, 1992; and, ACID RAIN: A Continuing National Tragedy, 1998), appeared in the independent film Inside the Blue Line (1993) and has produced a series of radio and television public service announcements with entertainers Bonnie Raitt (1994), Natalie Merchant (1997) and brothers/band mates Michael and Kevin Bacon (2009-10).

John is a regular guest lecturer at several New York colleges and universities, including Colgate University, Hobart & William Smith College, Hamilton College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Union College, Siena College, SUNY Albany, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse), and SUNY Potsdam. He has also addressed dozens of local organizations including local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and chambers of commerce, scientific societies and community forums.

John and his wife Deborah live in Albany and are seasonal residents of the Adirondack Park. Their daughter Hannah attends Albany public schools.

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