As director of economic development for Suffield, Patrick McMahon is a face you see at most groundbreakings and business openings around town. He’s part of the reason for the success of Hilltop Farm, the and the downtown area streetscape improvements. His forward-thinking plans include more farmland preservation and light industrial development near .
But his focus hasn’t always been small-town America. In fact, for a while, he was a city slicker.
McMahon grew up just down the road in Windsor and then attended Catholic University in Washington D.C.
“I was a politics major so being in the nation’s capital… there were privileges to that,” he explained.
He then took an opportunity to study abroad and interned in Irish Parliament. He also studied at the Institute for Public Administration in Ireland.
McMahon said the experience helped him appreciate “that other countries have their own unique cultures and daily lifestyles.”
But it was an opportunity to work at the Covenent House, a shelter for homeless kids in New York City, that spoke to his heart.
“I just knew what I had to do,” he said.
A volunteer for two years, McMahon received room, board and $12 a week.
”We would go and get our pint of Ben and Jerry’s at the end of the week with it,” he recalled.
The experience prompted him to earn a master’s in public administration and a law degree at University of Connecticut.
“I’ve always wanted to do something with communities and community development,” he said.
His first job was back in Windsor, revitalizing the Wilson neighborhood by working with businesses and residents to restore pride and character to the area. Then it was onto working with the Bradley Development League where he was noticed and asked to come on board in Suffield, where he has remained for the past nine years.
When he’s not working to secure new business (and tax base) for the area, he spends time with his five siblings and his kids, Nicolas, 8, and Juliana, 6.
“I like to swim and ski and I like to spend lots of time with the kids,” he explained. “We go on a lot of adventures, like hiking and to museums."
He’d like to get back to Ireland for a visit. For now, he is adding more states traveled to the 38 he can already tack on a map.
He’s even up for something outrageous… maybe.
“I’ve thought about jumping out of a plane, but I go back and forth on that,” he smiled.