The Select Board on Thursday filled a critical vacancy in town government with the appointment of Aleesha Nunley Benjamin as the town’s finance director. She starts work in March.
The finance director position has remained open since May after the departure of Steve Poulos to become town administrator in Wenham.
Town Treasurer Michael Carrite served as interim finance director following Poulos’ departure but departed Marblehead in September. Former Town Administrator John McGinn briefly came aboard as an advisor to Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer as the town closed its books for the 2022 fiscal year.
A resident of Gloucester and graduate of Salem State University, Benjamin currently serves as finance director for the town of Littleton. She said her interest in the Marblehead position stemmed from a desire to move closer to home.
“It’s a beautiful community on the water, and I saw it advertised open so I was excited about coming aboard team Marblehead,” she said.
After taking a look at Marblehead’s financials, Benjamin said it was clear the town “needed help,” citing a reliance on free cash for many budgetary needs.
Among her priorities, she said, are increasing financial transparency and building a financial team.
“I’d be key in leading that and helping bring the town to a really strong financial forefront,” she said, adding that conversations with Kezer, as well as the Select Board, have given her confidence that she can execute on goals set out by town leaders.
Benjamin will work particularly closely with Kezer, who she said she was “really looking forward” to working with.
“I love his background. I love what he’s thinking for the town, and it’s gonna be an absolute pleasure to work with him,” she said
As Benjamin transitions into the role, she said she’ll be taking a hard look at the town’s financial policies and procedures, having written policies during previous stops in Medford and Littleton, where she worked with town officials to implement policy changes.
“That’s a really big important piece of it, to help strengthen the inner workings of the town’s financial systems. That’s kind of how I would start and obviously getting to know all the different people from the boards themselves.
“I kind of want to get to know everyone and try to see if we can all get on the same page to not only improve processes within finance but any processes that they’re doing that they think could make it easier for them,” she said.
Benjamin said she was “extremely excited” to get to work in Marblehead, explaining that over her 15 years of experience working in cities and towns she’s developed a love for municipal work.
Particularly, she said, she enjoys serving the public and digging into issues to identify solutions to improve the way municipalities function.
“I’m extremely excited and I’m actually looking forward to not just meeting all the team that’s in Marblehead but also the citizens,” she said. “I love meeting with the citizens, talking to the citizens. That’s important when you’re in service, so I love that, that’s what I’m really looking forward to is getting to know everybody, becoming a part of the team, and becoming part of the town.”