In 2018, we honored a tireless group of 20 Saratogians doing amazing things to celebrate Saratoga Living‘s 20th anniversary. Five years and a global pandemic later, we caught up with five of them to see what’s new. Spoiler alert: They’re still busy making Saratoga—and the world—a better place.
Saratoga Springs High School Junior turned Syracuse University Junior
Back in 2018, we selected 17-year-old TJ Tracy for the Saratoga 20 list for his entrepreneurial spirit. He had just started an errand-running business called SERV, and when he was just 9 years old, had founded TJ’s Turkeys, a nonprofit that to this day provides local families in need with holiday meals. Just by nature of his age, Tracy’s last five years have likely been more transformational than those of any other member of the Saratoga 20; since 2018 he’s graduated from high school, traveled the world as part of a gap year, and started college at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Business where he’s majoring in—what else?—entrepreneurship.
Tracy plans to continue growing the sneaker reselling investment fund he started in college, expanding his photography business, and traveling the world. “I plan on moving out of the country for most of my twenties,” he says, “with the goal of better understanding different cultures around the world and exploring the abundance of opportunities there are to make a positive impact.”
The Saratoga Dog Walker
While Tim Pink had enough local celebrity status to land him on the Saratoga 20 list five years ago, his stardom has only gone up since then. Pink, a dog-training wizard and owner of Saratoga Dog Walkers, is known around town for walking packs of dogs—and we mean packs—and taking impressive photos and Instagram reels showing said pack (sometimes 30-plus pups) posing in notable Saratoga locales. His social media posts are so captivating (one recent post racked up more than 870,000 likes) that they caught the attention of the national media—including The Kelly Clarkson Show.
But Pink has been up to more than spreading smiles via adorable dog pics and vids: He recently bought a farm in Gansevoort with a heated horse—now dog—arena and 12 fields where he plans to launch a 9-5 program featuring pack walking, play time and training. “We’re aiming,” he says, “for the happiest and most well behaved pack of dogs on Earth.”
President and CEO of SPAC
When Elizabeth Sobol up and moved from Miami to upstate New York to take the job of president and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center in 2016, her presence was felt immediately. But she was just getting started.
Since then, SPAC has launched new programming around culinary, healing, visual and literary arts; undergone a complete campus transformation; grown its educational programming to serve 50,000 students throughout the Capital Region annually; opened the SPAC School of the Arts; took on year-round programming at the Spa Little Theater…the list goes on. And like SPAC’s list of offerings, Sobol’s love of her new home has only grown. “What started as a besotted infatuation with the city,” she says, “has grown into a deep and abiding love for my adopted hometown.”
Principal Architect/Owner of Phinney Design Group
For Mike Phinney, the last five years have been all about growing the environmentally responsible architecture and design firm he started in 2002. Four years ago, the firm opened a second location in Troy, which they have already outgrown (Phinney’s interior design department has doubled in size since 2018). Meanwhile, they just signed a lease on a Lake Placid office to better serve their Adirondack clients. Closer to home, the firm is responsible for the mixed-use 385 Broadway building in Saratoga, 550 Waterfront on Saratoga Lake, Walt and Whitman in the former Saratogian building, and Common Roots Brewing up the Northway in South Glens Falls. Up next? Amsure’s new headquarters in the former Salvation Army building on Woodlawn.
And while Phinney Design is known for its luxury homes, Phinney himself knows Saratoga won’t thrive without more affordable housing options. “We are really proud,” he says, “to be part of the Liberty Workforce Housing proposal that, once approved, will bring more than 200 workforce housing units to within walking distance of downtown and the Saratoga Race Course.”
Universal Preservation Hall Campaign Director turned Director
One highlight of the last few years in Saratoga as a whole, but certainly in the life of Teddy Foster, is the long anticipated opening of Universal Preservation Hall (UPH), a performing arts center housed in a historic church on Washington Street. Back in 2018, Foster was in charge of a capital campaign to raise $14 million to restore the run-down structure; now she’s the director of the venue, which provides Saratoga with year-round arts programming. But it wasn’t an easy path to get to this point.
After Foster’s behemoth fundraising effort and then the building’s extensive renovations, UPH opened to the public in February 2020—yup, just in time to have Covid shut it right back down. Now, UPH is back on track with its regularly scheduled programming, and Foster couldn’t be happier with her new role. “It’s been a roller coaster ride for the last five years,” she says. “But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”