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Dena Diorio is used to being the go-to person when it comes to Mecklenburg County's finances. Now, the Assistant County Manager is about to be the person in charge - the new County Manager.
"Thrilled. Opportunity. Excitement. Honor. Privilege. All of those words reflect what I thought when I got the news" Diorio told WBTV News during an exclusive interview as she prepared to meet Commissioners during closed session.
Diorio is Mecklenburg County's first female manager.
"For me I've been a leader in a lot of organizations throughout my career so being a woman leader is not new for me but I am honored to be first woman county manager for Mecklenburg county" she said.
During the Board's public meeting, County commissioners said it was a unanimous decision to hire Diorio from the pool of 17 applicants.
According to the County's Human Resources Director, Diorio will earn an annual salary of $228,000; Benefits of $6,687; Deferred Compensation worth $15,000 (into 401K); Expense allowance of $13,200. The total package is $262,887.
County officials say at the time of his termination, former Manager Harry Jones was earning $246,138. Interim Manager Bobby Shields, who took the helm in May, is making $223,560.
Diorio said she's ready to be County Manager.
"It has always been my career goal to be the county manager here in Mecklenburg County. And that's what I've kept my sights on since I came here as CFO since 2007" she told WBTV. " I think I've worked really hard. There's always things that you can learn which is why you want to learn more and grow more. But I think I'm fully equipped to move this organization to the next level."
Diorio is currently an Assistant County Manager and provides executive oversight of the county's financial services department, according to her biography on the Mecklenburg County website.
She was promoted to Assistant County Manager from the Department of Financial Services after former county manager Harry Jones was fired.
On Tuesday, WBTV spoke with Jones about Diorio's new position.
"I'm pleased that after conducting a national search, commissioners walked down the hall and found the next County Manager - someone I hired a couple of years ago," Jones said.
He said that Diorio has "the requisite skills to do a great job" and that he is "happy they selected from within the organization."
Jones added that Diorio "has significant understanding of financial dealings, she's an innovator, a strong person."
Diorio came to Mecklenburg County from Danbury, CT in 2007 to run the financial services department.
As County Manager, she'll oversee a $1.4B county budget, 20 departments, and approximately 4500 employees.
She also has to work with a Board of Commissioners, who can be demanding and unpredictable.
"I think the board wants opens communication. They don't want to be surprised. So my job is to make sure my board has all the information that they need to make the best possible decisions they can" Diorio said.
When it comes to the direction and vision for the county, the 51-year-old said she wants to "get us to the point where residents feel confident in what we're doing, that we restore some of the trust between county and resident, that we're a little bit more transparent in terms of how we do our business and provide the best service we can to residents of this county."