Northampton Finance Director Susan Wright to retire after 17 years with city

  • Finance Director Susan Wright works in her office Monday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/25/2021 8:05:34 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The mayor is not the only one who will be moving on from City Hall soon.

Finance Director Susan Wright will be retiring at the end of June after 17 years of working for the city. Wright has been the city’s finance director since 2011.

“It’s going to be an incredible loss to our city and obviously to me personally,” Narkewicz told the City Council on Thursday. “She’s been one of my closest advisers during my 10 years as mayor, but obviously we congratulate her on an incredible career and congratulate her on her retirement.”

Before working for the city, Wright was a town administrator for Colrain, Whately and Longmeadow. She started working for Northampton in 2004 when she took the job as business manager for the public school system.

“Northampton is fortunate to have dedicated and professional department heads and it has been a pleasure to work with them over the last 17 years,” Wright said in a statement.

The job of finance director, she later said in an interview, is “what you would do to manage your own finances but on a very broad scale. Of course, you realize you have to be accurate because people’s jobs depend on these numbers.”

During the pandemic, Wright said that she has been working on obtaining Federal Emergency Management Agency and CARES Act funding.

“It certainly has made the last year more complicated because of the added responsibility of that, those programs, but also the added uncertainty about the city’s revenue streams has added elements I never thought I would be dealing with,” she said.

She said the pandemic did not affect her decision to retire.

“This has always been my planned retirement date,” Wright said. “Last year I never would have dreamed I would be ending my career during a pandemic.”

Narkewicz praised Wright’s efforts in his comments to the City Council. “Most recently Susan has taken on the enormous task of managing our access to the state and federal COVID-19 funding that’s been so critical to our response to the deadly pandemic,” he said.

“I really appreciated that I could never bring a question to you that was too stupid,” Ward 3 Councilor Jim Nash said at the City Council meeting. “Also, you always made city finances super understandable — not only for me but for my colleagues and the residents of Northampton.”

Wright is also a skilled weaver, Narkewicz pointed out. Her work is “absolutely beautiful,” said Ward 6 Councilor Marianne LaBarge.

Narkewicz plans to advertise the job “immediately,” he told the council “as you all know this is a very critical position for the city.”

The mayor said he will be convening a screening committee to help with the hiring and that he hopes to be able to identify a new director before Wright leaves this summer.




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