City Manager News

City Manager - July 12, 2013

City Manager Lee Garrity today appointed Lisa Saunders, a 27-year veteran of the city’s Financial Management Services department, to succeed Denise Bell as chief financial officer. Bell retired June 25 after more than 35 years of distinguished service. Bell joined the city in 1977 as a senior accounting clerk and was named the city’s first female chief financial officer in 2003 after serving for 15 years as deputy financial officer. During her tenure, Bell structured economic development packages that attracted major employers and hundreds of jobs to the city and helped gain Winston-Salem national recognition for its financial management practices. More recently, Bell faced the challenges of maintaining the city’s AAA credit rating and safeguarding the city’s fiscal health in a time of unprecedented financial strain brought by the economic recession.

The one constant in Bell’s tenure, Garrity said, was her distinguished service to the citizens of Winston-Salem. “Strong leadership in managing our city resources is essential. Through many challenging economic times, Ms. Bell guided us with wise insight and strong stewardship. Her service to the citizens of Winston-Salem has been extraordinary.”

Saunders was appointed to succeed Bell after a national search managed by Developmental Associates LLC of Chapel Hill. A diverse pool of applicants from throughout the United States applied for the position. This applicant pool was narrowed down through interviews, comprehensive assessment tools, and background reviews.

Garrity said the city’s finances remain in good hands under Saunders. “Lisa’s breadth of knowledge, commitment to the team, and passion for the details made her the logical choice for our next chief financial officer,” he said.

Saunders joined the city in 1986 as a senior financial analyst and has served as the assistant financial officer since 2006. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia Tech and is also a Certified Local Government Finance Officer. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Government Municipal Administration Course, and will be a 2013 graduate of the Public Executive Leadership Academy. She is a member of the North Carolina Government Finance Officers Association and has served on the association’s board since 2010.

Saunders said that her first priority is to strengthen relationships and focus on maintaining the city’s strong financial programs well into the future.

Saunders and her husband, David, have three daughters. She will have an annual salary of $125,000.

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