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Mosko-Wozniak named director of community engagement and economic development at SU; Near Westside Initiative progress continues

June 16, 2008

Kelly Homan Rodoski
315 443 5381

Kelly Homan Rodoski

Throughout her career, Daniela Mosko-Wozniak has approached her work in developing and nurturing community art programs with a guiding principle--that art has the unique opportunity to connect and communicate globally. She will now apply this same principle in her new job as director of community engagement and economic development at Syracuse University.

Mosko-Wozniak's appointment is effective immediately. Her primary responsibility will be to recruit artists to relocate to Syracuse's Near Westside and develop artist resources in the neighborhood--two key components of the Near Westside Initiative. She will also have project management and curatorial duties associated with the Connective Corridor. She succeeds Mark Barone, who held the position since January 2006. Barone has assumed a consulting role with SU, allowing him to offer his expertise to other communities.

"The Near Westside Initiative Board of Directors is thrilled to have Dani's energetic approach and close connections to both the faculty in our College of Visual and Performing Arts and the local and international arts community applied to this endeavor," says Marilyn Higgins, SU vice president for community engagement and economic impact. "Dani has the credentials, the reputation for collaboration and the positive attitude we need to work with neighborhood residents to attract artists and new investment to the Near Westside."

"I am excited to be working with Marilyn and her qualified team, and I cherish the opportunity to be a part of a university that is building and strengthening community while driving our mission of leveraging our intellectual capital to provide service for the public good," says Mosko-Wozniak.

According to Higgins, the coalition of neighbors, local government, foundations, private businesses and experienced not-for-profit entities that is the Near Westside Initiative is moving forward on numerous projects:

  • more than $5 million in funding ($2.2 million from the Syracuse Neighborhood Initiative and $2.9 million from Restore NY and private sources) has been acquired and added to $13.8 million from SU (in the form of a loan repayment to New York State that was redirected to the Near Westside Initiative with the approval of the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation and the Empire State Development Corp.);
  • to insure that the project's momentum is jumpstarted, SU has chosen to incur a financial impact by providing the majority of the $13.8 million in UDC debt reinvestment funds to the Near Westside Initiative up front, as needed, as opposed to providing the $675,000 annual loan payment SU no longer has to make over the next 20 years;
  • 64 properties (34 structures and 30 vacant lots) have been purchased or are under contract; these include 260,000 square feet of abandoned warehouse space (the CASE Supply warehouse and the Lincoln Supply warehouse) and a surface lot that will be the future site of WCNY's new broadcasting complex;
  • 27 energy mini-grants of $2,500 each have been allocated to owner-occupants in the "Horseshoe" for energy audits in which Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems (Syracuse CoE) staff work with families to install new energy efficient technologies and products designed by upstate New York firms; one has been completed, and 11 others are in progress;
  • 31 curb appeal grants of $5,000 each have been awarded to owner-occupants; five have been completed, and 13 are under way;
  • the $1.9 million Restore NY grant has been allocated toward the rehabilitation of 12 structures and the new construction of seven single-family houses;
  • Home HeadQuarters is rehabilitating two transition houses to temporarily place families who have been relocated from their rental housing and are working toward buying their own homes within the neighborhood.
  • SU's School of Architecture is working on building designs--in cooperation with the Syracuse CoE and Home HeadQuarters to incorporate "green" components such as solar panels, green roofs and radiant heating systems--for four structures, one of which will serve as a Community Information Center (223 Marcellus St.);
  • monthly community meetings began in February 2008 to inform neighborhood residents about the progress of property acquisition and the commercial components of the Near Westside Initiative;
  • the "Tully Street Block Blitz" took place June 6 in which façade improvements were made to the houses of five owner-occupants; the purpose was to improve the curb appeal of a very visible block (across from Skiddy Park) while showcasing green improvements such as "green" clapboard siding, flexi-pave sidewalks and landscaping to manage storm water runoff (bio-swales); more than 100 volunteers from Carrier Corp. and United Way assisted in this effort;
  • the Syracuse CoE has applied for participation in the pilot LEED ND (Neighborhood Development) process for sustainable construction efforts in the Near Westside, with the intent of influencing future development within the neighborhood to be more sustainable and adhere to the concepts of new urbanism;
  • a Near Westside Initiative website has been launched (; an arts-focused mini-site is being created to attract artists to the concept of living and working in the Near Westside; and additional comprehensive marketing strategies are under way to attract artists, arts-related businesses and green tech companies to the neighborhood;
  • a new property tax abatement program proposed by the City of Syracuse will help to round out the incentive package available to attract new businesses and residents to the neighborhood and provide current homeowners with an incentive to improve their properties without incurring additional financial burdens;
  • a local arts council has been formed with the assistance of the Gifford Foundation; and
  • the history of the Near Westside is being documented through a collaboration of the Onondaga Historical Association and SU's College of Visual and Performing Arts.

For Mosko-Wozniak, her extensive experiences have prepared her well for joining the Near Westside Initiative. For the past two years, she has served as executive director for community art programs and director of community engagement in SU's College of Visual and Performing Arts. She developed and implemented strategies and programs to attract artists to The Warehouse, further established SU's downtown presence, and connected SU to the community through the planning and implementation of partnerships with the Community Resources Council, the Everson Museum of Art and other community organizations. She previously held administrative positions within CVPA beginning in 2002.

Mosko-Wozniak's passion for the arts and knowledge of its transformative powers is the thread connecting her personal traits with her flexible career path. A native of Germany, she earned a bachelor's degree in law at Freie Universität in Berlin and a bachelor of studio arts degree summa cum laude at Auburn University. While living in Montgomery, Ala., Mosko-Wozniak founded and directed a community center for the city's least-represented residents and provided arts education in an underserved inner-city neighborhood.

She also holds a certificate in leadership of international and non-government organizations and an M.P.A. degree, both from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and is a candidate for a certificate in conflict resolution from the Maxwell School's Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts.

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