After 11-month search, Grand County hires new council administrator
by Lisa J. Church
staff writer
Oct 25, 2012 | 2811 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruth Dillon
Ruth Dillon
Grand County’s 11-month search for a new council administrator is over. County council members said last week that a familiar face – Ruth Dillon – has accepted the job.

Dillon, who has worked for the Grand County Council office in a variety of jobs since March of 2007, has been performing many of the council administrator duties for almost a year, since Melinda Brimhall left the position last November. Dillon’s first day in the new position was Oct. 22.

Dillon said her nearly five years at the council office have provided valuable experience that will aid her in her new job.

“I’ve had a front-row seat. What an opportunity it’s been and how grateful I am for that,” Dillon said. “My position here is what has prepared me the most. Not only the work part of it, but the relationships and the public. It’s given me a really good feel for the passion in this county. What people care about. And the fact that people do care is exciting.”

Council chairman Gene Ciarus, said Dillon’s educational background and work history with several large corporations and companies gave her an advantage over the other four candidates who were interviewed in the most recent search effort.

If you look at her background and her education and her past experiences, it’s tremendous,” Ciarus said. “She was the [president] for one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. I think some people will really be surprised by how much experience Ruth really has. We looked at all that and at what she’d been doing through the years here. In the end, the leading factor was her experience.”

Ciarus said the decision to hire Dillon was unanimous among the seven council members.

“There was no second-guessing,” he said. “We all thought it was a good idea.”

Audrey Graham, vice chairwoman for the council, described Dillon as “an excellent listener, researcher and problem-solver” who “fully understands the structure of county government.”

Graham noted that, over the past several years, many applicants for the council administrator were experienced in city government administration but found it difficult to work within the structure for county governments that is established by Utah law.

That structure includes elected officials who run their own departments and have specific, state-mandated duties, Graham said.

“The voting public is their only  ‘supervisor.’ So the administrator, and the county council for that matter, have no say over them other than the budget,” she said. “This can make relationships difficult, especially if an administrator comes in expecting to operate like a city where the council has say over all aspects of operation.”

Graham said Dillon’s experience with Grand County government and the fact that she has already built relationships with most county department heads, gives her an immediate advantage.

“Ruth is well respected throughout the county... She is ready and willing to direct the dozen departments that are under the council’s direction, as well as making sure the council has everything needed to make good, well-informed decisions for Grand County,” Graham said. “It is a huge job, but one for which she is eminently qualified and excited to do. The final bonus is that she is a local resident who loves this area and plans to be here forever. She’s highly motivated to do a fantastic job and I have no doubt that she will.”

Dillon, a native of Mancos, Colo., holds a bachelor of business administration degree and a master’s degree in behavioral science. In the 1980s, she served as the administrator and president of Team Building Systems, Inc., a Houston, Texas-based company that was, at the time, included on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing small businesses in the U.S. She has also worked directly for the CEOs of several multi-million dollar companies. Before moving to Moab, Dillon worked as a counselor and a life coach in Denver, Colo. The skills she learned as a counselor are also applicable to being the council administrator, she said.

“I’ve learned a lot about conflict resolution. That prepared me to listen to all sides,” Dillon said. “Conflict resolution is an important part of this job because I’ll be supporting 12 department heads who will all have staff... I hope to be a good resource for them... And they will be great resources for me.”

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