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Dec. 9, 2019 | Monday
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Town chief administrator Holly Dowd retires
NOTL's chief administrative officer, Holly Dowd, is retiring after working with the municipality for more than 37 years. (Town of NOTL/Join the Conversation)

Niagara-on-the-Lake chief administrative officer Holly Dowd is retiring.

Lord Mayor Betty Disero on Monday announced that Dowd, who has been on medical leave for several weeks, is leaving her post effective Aug. 19.

Dowd is the second senior manager with the town to leave this summer. Fire chief Rob Grimwood departed two weeks ago. The town has refused to say why he is no longer with the municipality.

“As Lord Mayor, my own personal experience with Holly Dowd has been one of mutual respect. Holly has assisted in putting the council work plan together, so the public knows what council is working on, including target dates,” Disero said in a statement.

She declined to provide any information about Dowd’s severance package or whether Dowd would be paid until the end of her contract.

“I gave my statement today, in a letter to everyone and that’s all I’m prepared to say at this point,” Disero said in a phone interview Monday.

In April, Dowd’s contract with the town was extended by council until the end of this calendar year.

Dowd started with the municipality in 1982 and previously served as town clerk and director of corporate services. She was first appointed interim chief administrative officer in 2016 and was named CAO by council on Jan. 16, 2017.

Residents, colleagues and friends sang Dowd’s praises on social media this week after her retirement was announced.

Former town councillor Paolo Miele said Dowd was very approachable and had “an open-door policy.”

“Because she’s a mom, she had that parental instinct. But at the same time she had that administrative persona as well,” Miele said in an interview. “So she could balance the staff pretty good.”

Another former councillor, Martin Mazza, described Dowd as “professional, loyal, humble.”

“Every decision she made ... she always had the best interests of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake at heart,” Mazza said. “It was never a personal mission or personal interest in her decision-making.”

Dowd is a member of the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario. During her tenure, she instituted an electronic records system and a vote tabulating system by which ballots are counted by machine, Disero noted.

She also refreshed pay equity as part of the provincial requirements and streamlined the criteria for council’s in-camera sessions in order to increase public transparency, Disero said. Sheldon Randall, the town’s director of operations, has been filling in for Dowd during her medical leave.

“Holly has had a long history of loyal and effective service to the town and council, as well as many years of leadership for the town’s staff,” Disero said in a statement. “Holly has earned a well-deserved retirement and our thanks.”

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