A look at councilwoman Chris Knisely, chair of finance and personnel Committee and avid biker.
Some gypsy moths made Athens City Councilwoman Chris Knisely realize her interest in public service.
As a teenager in Silver Spring, Maryland, she said she remembers going door to door with her father, distributing flyers for a gypsy moth infestation.
“I think that experience gave me a sense of my duty to do public service,” she said. “It was growing up in a family that was committed to service that instilled that in me.”
But that wasn’t Knisely’s only lesson from her parents, who also taught her to love the outdoors.
Knisely’s parents often took her and her siblings camping — sparking her interest in being out of doors — “a big thing for me,” she said.
“Biking was a way to be outside in your own world,” she said. “A sense of independence.”
Knisely biked as her primary mode of transportation while studying education at Ohio Wesleyan
University. She eventually became involved in organized biking events such as The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure and Bike Virginia.
She hasn’t had much time for events like that since her appointment to council in 2008, filling
Amy Flowers’ seat, but hasn’t given up on biking altogether.
“Now I just do county roads or occasionally ride to meetings,” she said.
When Knisely moved to Athens for the second time in her life in 1997, she followed in her father’s footsteps and became involved in her local neighborhood organization. That led her to
Athens City Council meetings, often to speak during the meeting’s public comment period.
“It was a combination of curiosity regarding how (council) worked, and also concern about what was going on in the neighborhood,” she said.
After that, Knisely remained an active part of her neighborhood association and an observer of the Athens City Planning Commission, working closely with Mayor Paul Wiehl while he was a city councilman.
Knisely has since worked her way through City Council — and has served as the chair of the finance and personnel committee since 2012.
“She’s very efficient and professional and tries to look at all sides of an issue,” said Michele Papai, D-3rd Ward, who now holds the position as chair of the transportation committee that Knisely started out on. Papai is also the mother of Will Drabold, The Post’s Campus News Editor.
Knisely’s husband of about three years, Dave McCoy, a self-described political-junkie who attends Athens City Council meetings every week, says he comes not only to meet new people, but also to support his wife.
“What I’ve come to appreciate is how much Chris really enjoys the work and helping people in Athens and working to make it a better place,” he said.
Knisely has previously worked as the director of grant development at OU’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. OU is also where she earned her master’s degree in public administration in 1999.
She said those experiences were important in shaping her behavior on council.
“Graffiti and trash: Those are everyday issues that affect what the community looks like to the people who live here and the people that come to visit…the community needs to be in good shape.”