Brattleboro hires HR director after 'rigorous process'

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BRATTLEBORO — After holding telephone interviews with 11 of the 35 candidates and meeting with five "semi-finalists" in person, the town has hired Sally Nix as its first human resources director.

"It was a rigorous process, a very competitive process," Town Manager Peter Elwell said Tuesday during a Select Board meeting. "We had really good applicants. Sally emerged from that strong pool as the best qualified and the most likely to provide the HR leadership and cultural awareness that we need. So we're really looking forward to having Sally join our team."

Elwell said Nix, who will start on June 17, has been a human resources generalist for public schools in Fitchburg, Mass., for the last eight years as part of a two-person team for an organization made up of more than 800 employees.

"We actually joked with her that we feel really lucky to have a single HR professional who's going to be serving our team of about 140 employees," said Elwell. "As part of our

process, she met not only the management team and an interview panel but some of the employees as she was touring around from department to department. And it was all very positive reactions."

Nix worked for the City of Fitchburg for 23 years. She also had been president of a local administrative employees union.

"I'm really looking forward to starting in a few weeks and working with Peter and" Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland, said Nix, who plans to relocate soon. "We'd been interested in moving to Brattleboro for some time."

Nix said she has family in town.

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"When the job posting came up," she said, "I took the chance and I applied."

Brooks Memorial Library Director Starr LaTronica took her on a tour to all the different town departments in Brattleboro.

"It was a really great day," Nix said. "I explored a lot with her. It was a great time."

Board Vice Chairman Tim Wessel said he was "very excited" about the hire.

The town began advertising the position last July. The goal was to find someone who could help expand "diversity and equity" within the town staff while ensuring best HR practices are in place.

Discussions about the need for greater diversity within town staff started after a candidates forum for the March 2017 election where Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity Executive Director Curtiss Reed Jr. had inquired if there had been any plans to address the issue. His group helped with the hiring process.

Fitchburg has a "very diverse" school population, Nix said, "so I do have experience in trying to develop more diversity. It's part of our recruiting."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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