(WKTV) - Strong and influential.
Kind and passionate.
Those are all words to describe one local woman who has branched out, but has never forgotten her roots.
From Utica Catholic Academy to the 41st floor, from her first job at SUNY IT to helping to secure Nano Utica and its future jobs, you can call RoAnn Destito a game changer.
She went from the 116th Assembly District to a cabinet position of commissioner of the office of general services. But leaving a post she -- and her constituents -- were familiar with was not easy.
"I have been very fortunate in my life," Destito said. "I have. This is a way for me to give back."
Her view has changed, and in some ways so has her vision for the Mohawk Valley.
"Jobs and business. That's what I saw not happening in the Utica-Rome area," she said. "We were losing jobs. Nothing was coming back to fill in. That's what we needed and we need a new vision of where we were gonna go."
Destito was 36 years old when she first went to Albany. Her son was 2. Now he's about to graduate college and she wants to make sure he has a job to come home to.
"As a mother, I want my son to have the opportunity -- should he want it -- to come home and work at home and be around his friends and family," Destito said. "Family is so important to me. It's so important to my son. So if there is an opportunity..."
Driving through Griffiss, Destito can smile knowing she was a driving force in the transition from a closed base to a true business and technology park.
Fast forward to SUNY IT. Destito always knew what this campus in Marcy was supposed to be. And she has fought for the better part of her career to see it reach its full potential.
"Jobs in the community was my number one issue," she said. "And making sure the resources are there for all that needs to be done to turn around our economy."
Six high-tech companies will arrive by the end of 2014. Just out of school, Destito did a research paper on tourism in Oneida County. Is Nano Utica the final chapter?
"The naysayers, the skeptics of the whole initiative, have changed," she said. "I hear it. I see it. People come up to me when I'm home to say 'thank you.' "
And bringing it back to working in a man's world, Destito says women have come long way in Central New York.