From Maine to Row New York: Board Member Jon Denham

From Maine to Row New York: Board Member Jon Denham

by Ruby Lyon

Jon Denham’s one year anniversary serving on Row New York’s Board of Directors is right around the corner – March 2017. As a former Princeton University rower, Jon fell in love with the sport. He was largely disconnected from rowing until he discovered Row New York. Since then, Jon has become an integral part of our board, contributing his expertise in strategic planning and with the improvement and expansion of Row New York’s facilities.

p.s. check out the throwback photo above. Jon completing his freshmen year in 1982 on the Princeton lightweight team. 

Jon, tell us a little bit about your history.

I grew up in Maine and went to a fairly small public high school. There was no rowing program (in fact I really had no idea what rowing was), but I was on my school’s teams for cross country, track, and Nordic skiing. I went to college at Princeton University where I decided to try out for the lightweight crew team at the start of freshman year. I was immediately hooked on the entire sport and spent 4 very challenging and competitive, but rewarding, years at the boathouse. After college, I moved to New York City, not expecting be here long, but similarly fell deeply in love with the city. My wife Barbara and I have 3 kids, all in public schools here; we think New York City can be a great place for kids to grow up. Professionally-speaking, I’ve worked in real estate and community development for more than 30 years.

Canadia trip 2013

Jon Denham, a former Princeton rower, now works in real estate and community development. Pictured: Jon and his family exploring Canada.

What brought you to Row New York?

I had been largely out of touch with rowing for most of 30 years and actually was not aware of everything Row New York was doing. I attended a few events and began to learn about the programs. In 2015, when Row New York initiated the Strategic Planning process, Amanda asked if I would be interested in participating. It was a great process among really committed, smart people, and helping develop a plan to sustain and expand Row New York!

Fat Cat Rowing HRC 2016

Jon and the Fat Cat crew at Row New York’s 2016 Harlem River Classic.

What are your goals while serving on the board?

As chair of the Boathouse Committee, I’m focused on applying my real estate development experience to guide the improvement and expansion of Row New York’s facilities (programs and administrative). I also want to help Row New York achieve its goal of expanding and diversifying the Board.

A word of advice to our rowers?

If you haven’t already, embrace racing! There is truly no substitute for steady disciplined training (including the evil erg!), but racing is where you get to really test yourself and experience the positive power of teamwork.