Maher, a Brooklyn native and youngest of eight children, has dedicated his life to public service. He was a 27-year veteran of the Coast Guard and served in the Persian Gulf War. For over 45 years he's been actively involved with the Boy Scouts of America.
“I always liked helping other people,” Maher said. “I was brought up that way.”
Maher has served as chief of staff for the past 18 years in the Parks Department's Brooklyn office.
“I actually came to the Parks Department as a fluke,” he admitted. “A friend of mine had given me an application because I had a law enforcement background from the Coast Guard.”
Maher said when he turned in the application he was wearing cut-off shorts and a t-shirt. The man at the office insisted on interviewing him that day.
“I said, 'I'm not really dressed for an interview,' and then he sent me to Central Park to interview with another person,” Maher recalled.
After his second interview, he was asked to start the next day. He began training as a park ranger and enforcement officer, beginning his 32-year career with the agency.
Maher has worked as a beach supervisor and inspector at Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium, the 79th Street Boat Basin, and Randall's Island. Every time he thought about leaving, a new challenge came along.
“There is no such thing as a routine day in the Parks Department,” Maher said.
Now he holds the top post in Brooklyn.
“Parks is very much a family of people incredibly dedicated to making the City of New York better,” Maher said. “The Brooklyn team are incredibly hard-working people, so to be the leader of that team after being part of it for all these years, I'm just incredibly excited.”
Maher knows there's a lot of work to do. A major projects is the $30 million renovation of Betsy Head Park in Brownsville under the Anchor Parks initiative.
“We're going to transform the park,” Maher said. “Two months ago, we met with the community to get ideas and had the designers there. In the next week or so, we're going to follow up with the community to make sure we're on the right track.”
Another initiative he's excited to help come to fruition is improvements to Fort Greene and Prospect parks through the Parks Without Borders initiative.
“It's not just a program, it's a design concept to make our parks more inviting,” Maher said.
Maher said he is looking forward to the weather warming up so he can start cutting the ribbon on some of the projects.
“In my 32 years, I've been part of spending about a billion dollars in parks renovation,” he said. “You couldn't name a neighborhood where I wouldn't want to see improvements.”