Hay River has a new senior administrative officer, better known as an SAO.
That person is Glenn Smith, who has been preparing for the role for over two years as the assistant SAO.
Council appointed Smith the new SAO on June 30 to replace the retiring Judy Goucher.
Smith thanked the mayor and council for the vote of confidence and the opportunity to serve the community.
“Certainly the SAO responsibility is one that I don’t take lightly and would consider a privilege to be in,” he said at the June 30 online meeting of council.
Smith noted he has lived in Hay River for 40 years, since his family moved to the town when he was a child, and it’s a community that he loves.
“We have a very strong, dedicated senior management team in place, and there’s a lot of comfort in the position because of how talented that team is and really how great a group our staff is that we have in general with the town,” he said.
Smith also paid tribute to Goucher.
“It’s unfortunate, I think, for us and the community that we are losing her, as her leadership has been really transformational for town administration,” he said. “The reality is we can’t replace her, but we will work together as a cohesive administration, council and community, and continue down that path to betterment that she’s kick-started us off on.”
Mayor Kandis Jameson said she looked forward to working with Smith as SAO, while also praising Goucher’s contributions to the town.
“Absolutely we’re going to miss Miss Judy big-time,” said Jameson. “She has done amazing things for this community and her leadership was very strong.”
In comments to The Hub, Smith noted he took on the assistant SAO role as part of a development and succession plan, since Goucher had expressed an interest in staying with the town until now.
“So I did come on board with the understanding and agreement that we would work on development and training and eventual succession into that position,” he said. “So it was executed as planned, really.”
Goucher started working for the town in January 2017.
“It started off as a six-month gig and turned itself into three-and-a-half years,” she told The Hub.
Among her goals taking on the job was to work on the organizational structure of the town, make sure through good hires that there was a strong foundation for the future, and work on governance in terms of the roles of council and administration.
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress,” she said. “I would say that there’s still work to be done. But I think that Glenn has a really strong management team to support him and I think we’ve made good inroads in terms of preparing our current council. We spent a lot of time and effort, and brought in experts to help train our new council, and I think that has helped them make informed decisions.”
Goucher said the town has also made “great inroads” in terms of bringing in external funding to the community, noting that more than $15 million in extra support was found during her time as SAO, not including core contribution agreements the town has with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.
“So that’s certainly an accomplishment, and Glenn and the other senior managers were part of that, as well,” she said. “I’d like to see them keep that up if the funding is available perhaps to that level, but just knowing that there are external sources available to help stretch your tax dollar I think that’s key to any community today.”
Goucher is confident Smith will do an excellent job as SAO.
“He is certainly dedicated to this community,” she noted. “He has the skill set. He’s been through the School of Community Government. So he’s taken the training for senior administrative officers. And so I think I am definitely leaving this job in excellent hands.”
The former SAO will continue to work on a number of files until her final day with the town on July 24.
“This is my second try at retirement,” Goucher said with a laugh.
Before becoming the SAO for the town, she had retired as chief financial officer with the Northwest Territories Power Corporation.
Now, Goucher said she will spend more time with her family, and possibly do some consulting in the future.