A conversation with Renae Marshall, town administrator

Photo by Garrett Brown
After serving in multiple roles, Renae Marshall became Hinesburg’s permanent town administrator last month.

On October 9, Renae Marshall sat down at a familiar desk. Twice, the long-time Hinesburg resident had been a placeholder at that very desk, but now it was officially hers as the newly hired Hinesburg town administrator. We talked about what got her there and what she sees ahead.

Q: What brought you to Hinesburg originally?

A: My husband and I moved here 25 years ago. We had relocated to Vermont and were renting in Richmond and looking for a place to plant our roots and we fell in love with Hinesburg. We’re outdoors people and Hinesburg fits in all the boxes on our list.

Q: Tell us about the jobs you’ve held in town?

A: When we had our first son, I was committed to staying home with him, so I did a lot of volunteer work. I got involved in Friends of Families and became a play group coordinator right here in town hall. I also facilitated the Mother Goose programs and that led me to Hinesburg Community School. Initially I worked as a substitute teacher but then I started helping out in classrooms, supporting kids either one-on-one or in small groups.

When Town Administrator Jeanne Wilson needed to spread out her workload, I became the town’s 911 coordinator. I’d work at the school during the day, come home and spend time with my family, and then head to town hall. Eventually Jeanne left and Joe Colangelo came on board and the position grew. I stopped working at the school and became full-time at town hall. They called my position special projects coordinator because they needed to give me a title, and that seemed like a catchall.

I worked part of the time for Joe and part of the time for planning and zoning. When Joe left, I was interim town administrator from April to August of 2014 and when Trevor Nashua came on board, he asked me to be full-time in his office. When he left in May, I was tapped for the interim position again and then hired officially in October.

Q: Why were you interested in being town administrator?

A: I had to really spend some time thinking about that and reflecting. I didn’t put my hat in the ring until right before the deadline. I’ve worked with three different town administrators and seen good times and tough times. It’s not an easy role; not just here, but across the state. We’re considered a small town and we have a small staff and we each play significant roles. I’m very committed to Hinesburg. I’ve volunteered and worked in this town in many different capacities in part because I believe you should think globally and act locally. This community has given so much to my family that at the end of the day I couldn’t walk away and not give this my best effort.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges?

A: Hinesburg is such a special place and it is filled with people who care, and sometimes they care so much that it becomes challenging. We need to find room to improve and really listen to one another and come up with decisions based on the greater good. It doesn’t matter what the issue is; it’s about how we deal with it and the process.

Q: What are your goals?

A: I’d like to see more community building. I want to bring together all the assets we have in this community to help us work together. There are ways to make work happen more efficiently and bringing everyone together so we all have a general understanding of what everyone does. I’d like to get all the boards and commissions together so we can work on a unified effort.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: I enjoy skiing, mountain biking, and hiking, but our spare time has really been about our two sons. We’ve evolved as the kids have evolved. Running has become a big piece of their life and we get joy out of going to their races and watching them do something they enjoy. We love doing things as a family.

Q: What makes Hinesburg special?

A: We have such a great location. We benefit greatly from a variety of trails and we’re close to the mountains. We’re close to Burlington but far enough away to still be rural. There are different recreation programs and a real outpouring from parents who help out. The more I’ve gotten involved, the more I see how many others do the same and really care about the town.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: A lot of this job is familiar to me, but there will be areas where bringing people together will help. I feel like I have a lot of support here, and I’m excited about moving forward. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some wonderful people and I have learned from each of them and that has given me confidence that I can do this.

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