Politics

Weinberger appoints new Burlington chief administrative officer

Mayor Miro Weinberger, right, announces the appointment of Katherine Schad as Burlington’s chief administrative officer on Friday. Photo by Jacob Dawson/VTDigger

BURLINGTON — Mayor Miro Weinberger has tapped Katherine Shad, an international development specialist, to be the city’s new chief administrative officer.

Weinberger announced Friday he would appoint Schad to serve in one of Burlington’s few citywide roles. Schad is currently the vice president of project support services at Tetra Tech, a global international development and consultation firm with an office on Bank Street.

“She’s known as being a collaborative manager, which is a skill that we value greatly within Burlington city government,” Weinberger said, speaking with reporters in his office. 

Schad’s role will be to work with staff from all of Burlington’s departments and oversee the city’s clerk and treasurer’s office. 

Weinberger said a priority for his administration has been to assure Burlingtonians the city’s finances are being used “properly, efficiently and innovatively.” Weinberger said the city was restored to an AA credit rating at the end of last summer, and since he became mayor, working collaboratively across the city has helped save Burlington taxpayers “literally tens of millions of dollars.” Schad hopes to build on that work.

“I’ve spent my career helping people and helping communities around the world,” Schad said.

Schad has been living in Burlington for several years and wanted to find a way to become more involved in city. She has served as vice chair of the board of ANEW Place since 2016.

At Tetra Tech, Schad oversees a staff of 45 across eight corporate departments implementing 40 overseas projects with over $1.5 billion in contract value. She has been with the company since 2014.

Before moving to Burlington, Schad worked at Chemonics International in Washington, D.C., also an international development firm. In her seven years there, Schad managed staff and led multi-million dollar developments in Europe and Eurasia.

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While working with Chemonics, from 2007 to 2009, Schad relocated to Tirana, Albania. There she supported a $13.8 million anti-corruption project.

“I realized that managing projects overseas and working on $50 million projects in Albania or Zambia, is not that different than managing projects and working with departments to craft and manage budgets responsibly here in the city of Burlington,” Schad said.

Part of Schad’s responsibilities as Burlington’s chief administrative officer will be to oversee the local election process.

“At first I thought, I don’t know if that’s something I’ve done,” Schad said. “And then I thought, actually, I’ve managed free and fair elections in Kosovo and in Zambia, and if I can do it there, surely I can do it in Burlington.”

Schad assumes the office as several key issues are up in the air in Burlington, including the stalled redevelopment of CityPlace. Weinberger said the chief administrative officer has a limited involvement in the project, as a separate team has been set up to address the ongoing issues. 

“I think, certainly aspects of the project like projections of TIF revenues and whatnot, there’s some responsibilities that fall to the CAO’s office, but they’re limited and I would expect that to continue,” Weinberger said.

When asked what she would like to see happen with the shuttered Memorial Auditorium, Schad said she didn’t have enough information at the moment to answer, but said she is “really looking forward to delving into that.”

Weinberger added the city will have an update for the public “soon.”

Schad’s appointment comes after former chief administrative officer Beth Anderson left the post in November to become president and CEO of Vermont Information Technology Leaders, a nonprofit organization which operates the Vermont Health Information Exchange. Burlington Fire Department Chief Steven Locke has held the job on an interim basis since Anderson left.

Schad holds a BA in international affairs from Gordon College and an MBA in international management from Arizona State University.

Weinberger will ask city councilors to approve Schad’s appointment at their Jan. 21 meeting. If approved, Schad will begin work with the city on Feb. 17.

“I’m really looking forward to building on the progress that’s already been made,” Schad said.

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