December 2003

Nan Ackerman -
Dedicated, Involved, Tireless

by Joseph H. Radder

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Nan Ackerman has been a Councilwoman in Orchard Park since 1992. She is running for re-election this year. Undoubtedly, the voters will note her many accomplishments during her eleven years of service when they pull that lever on election day.

She is very proud of her role as co-founder of the Orchard Park Youth Court in 1995, as principal organizer of this worthwhile endeavor. It was one of the early Youth Courts in western New York and served as a model for similar youth courts in numerous other communities.

As Refuse and Recycling Coordinator, she was instrumental in bringing the cost of garbage collection down substantially in the Township. Nan was the co-originator of the Organic Reclamation Center on Milestrip Road, working closely with grant writers to secure funding for this and other capital projects. A pioneer in recycling, she wrote the curbside pickup recycling law for Orchard Park that would be the model the New York State mandatory recycling curbside pickup law passed in 1994. She was also significantly involved in the passage of the beverage container deposit law passed in New York in the mid-1980s. Locally, Nan Ackerman represents Orchard Park on the Northeast/Southtowns Solid Waste Management Board and is secretary of that organization.

Other Town Board milestones include accomplishing handicapped access renovations and parking lot expansion at the Orchard Park Town Library, acquisition of land for McFarland Green, and origination and establishment of the Town’s historic pictures and documents and student artwork. These are just a few of the Town Board achievements listed on Nan Ackerman’s resume.

Her civic dedication doesn’t stop with governmental affairs. Ackerman is on the board of the Orchard Park Symphony, the town’s Pride Committee, is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, and is a past-president of the Orchard Park Study Group and League of Women Voters. She is seriously involved in the Orchard Park Historical Society, has coached Little League, has participated in the Library Endowment Fund, is an annual volunteer for the March of Dimes and the American Cancer Society. She also serves on the boards of the Erie County Child Abuse and Treatment Center, the county Child Advocacy Center, the Erie County Sex Abuse Task Force and the Greater Niagara Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts of America. She recently rotated off the board of the United Way after serving two terms.

As if that weren’t enough, Nan tells us “I’m very involved in a lot of the projects in the Orchard Park Central School District including a teaching program in the elementary schools, talking to the kids about government.” As part of this program she established mock Town Board meetings in which Middle School students play the role of government officials. By the end of the sessions, the students are conducting the meetings themselves. “I’ve learned a lot from that,” she says. “A resolution at one of these meetings proposed to give season tickets to Bills football games to Middle School kids. They debated the issue hotly and, finally, voted it down as a frivolous waste of taxpayers’ money. I had put it on the agenda as a light issue to maintain student interest, but they took it seriously and acted responsibly. I was so proud of them.”

Nan Ackerman was born on March 29, 1943. Her father, Dr. Clayton G. Weig, a radiologist, died in 1991. Her mother, Dorothy Schweigert Weig, a registered nurse turned full-time mother is still living independently and enthusiastically in the Town of Tonawanda. “Interestingly, by dropping off the first three letters and the last three letters of her name it became Weig.”

Nan’s sister, Gretchen, the mother of two grown boys, also lives in the Town of Tonawanda and works as a speech pathologist, effectively incorporating art therapy in her work with young children.

Nan Weig and Philip C. Ackerman were married in Buffalo in 1967. They both grew up in Kenmore at about the same time. “My first recollection of Phil was on field trips when we were in Junior High.” They had one date in high school but the relationship got serious when they were both attending the University of Buffalo.

The Ackermans have two children; David Philip, a doctor of veterinary medicine and Kathryn Elizabeth, a 2002 graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who has just received a master’s degree in public health from Harvard. David shares his duties with his pediatrician wife Kate, caring for the 21 month and 7 month grandchildren, Quinn and Philip. The other Kate (Kathryn Elizabeth) has just started her residency in internal medicine.

“I seem to work all the time, but it’s more like just fun because it’s just what I want to do.” said Nan.

One needs to spend but an hour or so with Nan Ackerman to learn that, as busy as her life is, she is devoted to her husband, Philip C. Ackerman, CEO of National Fuel Gas, a Harvard Law School graduate. Interestingly, Ackerman has worked for only the one company his entire adult life.

“Phil is a very quiet, thoughtful, intelligent person,” she says proudly. “He is, without a doubt, one of my greatest joys. He has given me the opportunity to pursue those things I felt were important. And he has given me the freedom to develop my own self . Because of our complete trust in each other, I have the tremendous support from Phil that has enabled me to become a much stronger person than I might otherwise have been.”

Being dedicated to her family and to her fellow citizens, and being involved in the many issues that affect them, keeps Nan Ackerman busier than most people we know. It’s a good thing she has the tireless energy that makes it all possible.

Joseph H. Radder, a frequent contributor to Living Prime Time, is author of a new book, Young Jesus, the Missing Years. For more information, phone 1-888-280-7715 or visit


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