Story By Rebecca Breland | Photography Sidney Li
Driving to Lakota East at 7:30 in the morning was the highlight of her day. It wasn’t because she was an early bird but, because she was able to spend the mere minutes with her daughter in the car. Despite her working schedule, she wanted to make time for her daughter before she finished high school and went off to college.
Now Liberty Township trustee Christine Matacic was at first against running in 2002 for the position because her daughter Janice Matacic was still in high school and Christine wanted to get her through that first.
“A trustee at the time was not going to run again, she saw what I was doing and asked me to run for her spot. I said [I] wasn’t ready [as] I [had] to get my daughter through high school,” Christine says. “When my daughter came home from school, I talked to her about it and she said ‘you should try this because if you don’t, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.’ So, I decided I would go for it.”
Christine was elected for her fifth consecutive term as a Liberty Township trustee in Nov. 2017. While being a mother to two daughters, she has been an involved member of the Liberty Township community since she moved in 1981 and was recognized by the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance as a Woman of Excellence in 2014.
“Looking back, we had about 23,000 residents in ’02 when I first took over as trustee. Then, this year we’re up to 42,000 residents,” Christine says. “It’s a lot of growth [and] we’ve gone from just a handful of businesses to over 500 businesses. With Liberty Center dropping almost like a mini city inside our community, it’s really added to the quality of life we have here for our residents.”
Christine’s friend Dina Minneci has been working alongside Christine since 2004. They first were acquainted when she was hired by Christine and the other trustees at the time as the Liberty Township administrator.
As they worked alongside each other for the eight years, they grew very close and Minneci says that “under [Christine’s] leadership as a Liberty Township trustee, the community has distinguished itself as a strong and viable presence within the state of Ohio.”
“Mrs. Matacic is a role model,” Minneci says. “[Just] look [at] her daughters [Catherine and Janice] and to the well-rounded community she has helped create.”
Before any of her time on the board of trustees, Christine was just a working mom. But this trustee position was nothing she went into blindly, as Christine has many years working in other positions that prepared her for this.
As a member of the Liberty Township Park Committee in 1993, Christine later joined the Liberty Township Trails Initiative and formed a non-profit that benefited and worked in the green space, preservation and hiking and biking trails in the Greater Cincinnati region.
“I was in personnel with a few different companies,” Christine says. “I bought and sold steel for a company in materials management, [and] I was working as a mail clerk for a company who paid for my night school. As time went by I eventually went to personnel [in various businesses].”
Christine worked in different hospital personnel departments, and even created her own business named Home Grown Treasures, which sold doll clothes in seven different stores throughout the Greater Cincinnati Area, Centerville and Westerville. These different jobs continued until Christine found her niche and what would eventually lead her to her trustee position.
“I started working with township parks. When I joined, I took charge with the Liberty Park behind the YMCA,” Christine says. “I got everything planned with all the concrete, trees, plants and equipment. We started at 8 A.M. on [a] Saturday and by 3 P.M., everyone was pulling out of the parking lot.”
Volunteering is also where she met fellow Liberty Township trustee board member and friend Tom Farrell. Farrell has ten years of experience as a volunteer, mostly with the zoning commission; just like Christine, he went from volunteer work to a member of the board of trustees in March of 2013.
“Christine is one of those people that always does the right things for the right reasons,” Farrell says. “I think she’s a mentor to many and support arm to all. It doesn’t matter who it is, if someone calls and asks a question, no matter how small or how large it is, [Christine] engages, and she works with them as if it’s her only job.”
The work and effort that Christine puts into making Liberty Township has not gone unnoticed. Not only does Christine want to further expand the parks around the area, she aspires to make it a better living in general.
“I think if you get down to it all, how we all work together in the community, that is what makes us who we are today,” Christine says. “We’ve laid the foundation, now we just need to build on it.”