Two decades of experience under her belt, Kay Gordy perfect fit for role in resort
(Feb. 14, 2020) Two decades ago, Karen “Kay” Gordy stepped away from academia and plunged into the world of building codes and zoning. It was a move that would lead to her appointment last November as Ocean City’s zoning administrator.
With 20-years of experience under her belt, Gordy reflected on her career in the resort and elsewhere in Worcester County.
“I was on my way to teaching at the collegiate level, which I did at the community college [Wor-Wic] for three and a half years, and then things just kind of changed in life,” Gordy said. “I called my hometown, Snow Hill, municipal government office and I asked what kind of jobs do you have. They said, ‘We have one, but I don’t think you know anything about it,’ and I said, ‘Give me an opportunity’.”
The former art history expert’s bold request landed her a position as Snow Hill’s code enforcer. In a small town such as Snow Hill, this meant Gordy was running a one woman show.
“That’s where I got my feet wet,” she said.
Tracey Greene-Gordy, the director of the Maryland Department of Planning, Lower Eastern Shore, trained Gordy, as well as other Worcester County staff.
A few years into the job, however, Gordy realized the small town needed code enforcement by someone who had more building experience than she.
In the late winter of 2005, Ocean City developed its zoning analyst position. Gordy applied and got the job.
“April of this year, I’ll be here 15 years,” she said.
For the first five years as zoning analyst, Gordy worked with the Board of Zoning Appeals as staff liaison, secretary, handled building permit applications and follow-up work.
Then, in 2010, the former deputy zoning administrator retired, and Gordy’s responsibilities expanded to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Eight years later, in July 2018, she was promoted to zoning analyst II, and then in November last year she was promoted to zoning administrator following the departure of her predecessor, Frank Hall.
“I have the task of making final interpretations and making sure that I have researched things well enough to give a definitive final interpretation on a code issue,” Gordy said about her new position.
She said training in ancient and art history has helped her to become extremely detail oriented, which helps her stay focused with the code work that can be tedious and confusing.
Nonetheless, Gordy said most important is collaborating with fellow city staff members, such as Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville.
“I feel like we’re a team effort,” she said. “I like to talk with them, talk things over, bounce things off people and then make the best interpretation possible.”
Despite the recent start, Gordy is already thinking ahead, and said her goal is to keep the most complete and thorough records of her work, so future zoning administrators will continue running the city’s building code operations smoothly.
“I’m very, very grateful to staff here and also to the mayor and City Council for allowing me this opportunity. I feel like that I am well suited for it, prepared to take on the task, enjoy working with people and I like to be able to get the results that they’re asking for, if it’s in reason and in code.”