By Joshua Burd
The Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency has named a lifetime city resident and longtime public servant as its new executive director.
The city on Wednesday said that, in her new role, Tashilee Vazquez will lead a comprehensive effort to address blighted properties around the municipality and help draw investment from the private sector. With the agency, she will serve as the liaison between real estate developers, the agency’s commissioners and city administrators to ensure seamless redevelopment, from initial discussions about a parcel to project completion.
Vazquez is now splitting her time between the new position and her current role as director of the Perth Amboy Office of Economic and Community Development.
“Expect some busy months and years ahead,” Vazquez said, noting that PARA is poised to announce a stream of redevelopment initiatives that have been steadily in the works. “Perth Amboy is squarely focused on redevelopment. It is a very exciting time to be in the city.”
The third-generation city resident won unanimous support from the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency, or PARA, to become executive director. The city, meantime, noted that it has not undergone the comprehensive, community-driven process since 2003 but is working on creating a new master plan.
PARA will provide input to the planning board to ensure redevelopment initiatives align with the greater long-term goals of the city, according to a news release. There is also a concerted push to create a transit village downtown.
“Tashilee is the ideal choice to serve as our executive director,” PARA Board Chair Joel Rosa said. “She has a wealth of knowledge about the city, a tremendous work ethic and is passionate about moving Perth Amboy forward. Because of her work in the community and economic development, she will centralize the city’s efforts, creating a one-stop point for developers eager to invest in Perth Amboy.”
Vazquez, who completed her second term on the Perth Amboy school board in December, has served in the city’s economic and community development office since 2019. She is also a commissioner with the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, which consistently provides funding for redevelopment initiatives in Perth Amboy.
She first went to work for City Hall in 2017, serving in the office of housing and social services, before moving into her current office in 2019, the news release said. In her newest role, she expects to attract development projects that will serve residents of all incomes and backgrounds.
“We are not interested in speaking with developers who simply want to build as much as possible without incorporating the needs and desires of residents,” Vazquez said. “PARA encourages development that builds community, creating new and vibrant places for people to live, work and recreate.”
Vazquez began her professional career in the nonprofit sector, becoming chief professional officer of Middlesex County’s sole Boys & Girls Club, the city said. It led to a career focused on strategic planning, grant writing, project management, community relations and budgeting.
She earned her undergraduate degree in law and justice from The College of New Jersey and a graduate degree in public administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“Tashi has demonstrated tremendous leadership capacity,” Perth Amboy Mayor Helmin J. Caba said. “Her professional experience in planning, budgeting, capital acquisitions, community relations, real estate negotiations, teamwork and accountability are all vital in promoting the city’s revitalization and development programs. Her work with PARA will attract new residents and businesses and enrich the lives of current residents.”