Riverhead community development director Chris Kempner, is leaving town government to become the director of the Stony Brook incubator. Courtesy photo

Riverhead Community Development director Christina Kempner is leaving her post next month to run the Stony Brook incubator in Calverton.

Kempner will stay on as an independent consultant to the town to help the town through a very busy period in the grant-writing cycle, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Deputy town attorney Dawn Thomas will be appointed interim CDA director, the supervisor said.

“Chris has done a great job for the Town of Riverhead,” Walter said. “I’m sad to see her go but I think it’s a good move for her, a better fit for her and her family.”

Kempner has held the position since January 2008, succeeding former CDA director Andrea Lohneiss. She worked for the CDA for a little more than a year before her appointment to the top post.

The Riverhead community development director is responsible for writing grant applications and administering grant programs. The director oversees property owned by the community development agency, which includes the town-owned land at the Calverton Enterprise Park.

“It was amazing 10 years,” Kempner said this evening. “I will be on the [EPCAL] property for the buildout, so it’ an exciting transition into Stony Brook Economic Development,” she said. “I’m really very excited to work with Yakov Shamash and Ann-Marie Scheidt.”

Thomas, who had been town attorney for more than a decade before leaving to clerk for a State Supreme Court Justice in 2011, returned to the town attorney’s office last year as a deputy town attorney.

Walter said the town will miss her in the town attorney’s office but believes she will do well in the CDA post — and hopes she will eventually be permanently appointed to the position, which is a Civil Service job. He said her believes there is currently no Civil Service list for the title.

“We will post it and advertise it of course, but I think Dawn has the right expertise and skills as a lawyer that will carry over,” Walter said. “If you’re an attorney and you’re a persuasive writer, you’re a persuasive writer,” he said.

The town board will accept Kempner’s resignation at its regular monthly meeting tomorrow afternoon and authorize hiring her as an independent consultant at a rate of $90 per hour with a cap of $10,000. That will get the town through the next three months, which Walter said is a particularly busy period.

He said he hoped to appoint Thomas as interim CDA director tomorrow as well, though a resolution making that appointment was not in the packet of resolutions published today with the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting.

Correction:  This story has been amended to correct the date when former town attorney Dawn Thomas returned to town government.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.