Yesterday I forgot Laura Hyde’s birthday despite having it on my calendar as a (fortunately) recurring event.  Forgetting a co-worker’s birthday is probably not as great a sin as failing to remember your spouse’s birthday, but when the colleague in question is one of the most important reasons you’ve been able to hang onto your job for a dozen years, forgetting this date is almost criminal.

Laura, for those who don’t know her, does not like attention and will almost certainly be unhappy with my public apology.  I’m willing to risk her displeasure because she seldom receives recognition for all the good she has done in her 42 years with the City of Albany.  Steve Bryant, my predecessor, informed me about Laura’s value to the organization before I started work here and everything he said was true.  She has a rare talent for communicating the legitimate reasons for past practice while welcoming and promoting innovation.  Laura’s thoughtful loyalty to the City of Albany is an example I can only aspire to follow.

I have no idea how Laura manages to keep track of all her responsibilities given the state of her office, which looks something like a ransacked storeroom.  I pride myself on keeping a neat office so that I don’t lose or forget things and I’m sure most people can guess who is more reliable about remembering what needs to be done (see opening paragraph).  Neatness apparently has nothing to do with administrative ability.

Beyond her professional skills, Laura is a caring and compassionate person who sees the good in almost everyone.  She is a constant advocate for city employees and would never let me forget concerns about the daily issues that affect all of us.  No one knows more about the City of Albany and Laura has taken many of the lessons learned over 42 years and used them to improve the place for the benefit of all who work here.

Many people have asked me why I’m retiring next month and there are a number of answers that apply.  I am already two-and-a-half years past the average U.S. retirement age.   I want to spend more time with my wife and soon-to-be 18 grandchildren.  I would like to do some international assignments while I still can.  Finally, I have to retire before Laura does.  Her absence would only confirm what many have suspected over the years.

Happy Birthday, Laura (belatedly), and thank you for all you do on behalf of others.