Durham City Council by unanimous vote Monday named interim City Manager Wanda Page to the position permanently.
Page’s selection during Monday’s special council meeting—held “to consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, and other attributes of one or more candidates for the position of City Manager”—comes just one month after city leaders had contacted a firm to begin a national search.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime—to lead an organization that I truly love that serves the needs of a community that I truly love,” Page said in a press release. “While recovery from the economic and personal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been my strong focus over the past six months, other issues the city faces, like many other cities across the country, are just as complex. Creating a safer community continues to be high on my list, and effective solutions must involve constant innovation and a broad range of collaborators and partners.”
Page was named interim city manager following former City Manager Tom Bonfield’s retirement on September 30.
“City council members realized how fortunate the city is to already have someone who essentially has been preparing for this position for all of her 30-year career,” Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said in the press release. “Wanda is a consummate professional with vast experience, rock-solid judgment, and a deep knowledge of local government and our community. Furthermore, she has earned the respect and support of the organization and community as a trusted leader, not just over the past six months, but during her entire tenure in city government.”
Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson added that Page “has clearly demonstrated that she understands the values of the Durham community, and will continue to work to carry out plans and initiatives that make Durham the special place that it is, always striving to be inclusive, innovative and community oriented, while being fiscally responsible.”
Page steps into the job equipped with a rich cornucopia of professional credentials and deep-rooted ties to the city and the Triangle.
She is a 1982 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
She later earned a master’s degree in business administration from North Carolina Central University in 1995 and has been an International City/County Management Association credentialed manager since 2010.
Page is also licensed by the North Carolina State Board of Certified Public Accountant Examiners and the Institute of Internal Auditors as a certified internal auditor.
Page joined the City of Durham in 1987 as a senior staff accountant. She served as assistant finance director/controller from 1999 to 2002. From 2002 to 2006, she served as the internal audit director and as assistant city manager from 2006 to 2008. Later that year, when Bonfied was hired, she was named deputy city manager.
The city’s new top executive is also a strong community steward. She currently serves on the executive board of the Lincoln Community Health Center Foundation and on an advisory board for the public administration department at N.C. Central.
In a statement Monday, Page said she believes that local governments must always consider the impact and persistence of inequitable systems that affect the quality of life of residents in the community, particularly in communities of color.
“These inequities have led to slower-than-desired progress in areas such as economic prosperity and safe, affordable housing options for all residents,” she said. “Solutions will take creative, innovative thinking and consistent, sustainable, and equitable engagement to find solutions that lead to real progress.”
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