City administrator, HR director join staff
The Hyattsville City Council has approved two key additions to city staff, including the top job. Newly appointed City Administrator Jerry M. Schiro and Director of Human Resources Vivian Snellman are both set to begin work this month.
The council approved Schiro’s contract at its April 15 meeting and Snellman’s on May 6. Schiro, who starts on May 15, will report to the council. He will supervise the seven department directors and through them, more than 100 employees.
The two new hires have decades of experience between them. Snellman worked for more than 25 years in Honeywell’s human-resource department before becoming an HR consultant in 2008. Her background with Honeywell includes manufacturing, commercial and government contracting. Snellman becomes the city’s second human-resources director; its first, Chris Vermillion, left in March after a year. Her first day will be May 20.
Schiro brings to the job more than 35 years of public service, 11 of them as the village manager of Chevy Chase, Md. The rest of his career has been spent largely in Virginia, where he lives. In Luray, for example, he held a variety of positions: police officer, police chief, town councilmember and – three times – town manager, including one temporary stint last year.
“If not for the Town of Luray, I would not have enjoyed a career in local government,” he told a Shenandoah Valley Now reporter at the time.
Mayor Marc Tartaro released a statement calling Schiro’s skills and background a “perfect fit” for Hyattsville. “Our current economic climate requires strong financial management skills, as well as a proven track record in economic development. We’re fortunate to have identified a professional who can bring those talents and more to our community.”
Later, in an interview, he praised Schiro’s “experience with municipalities of varying sizes,” adding that “he seems to have a very even temperament, too, which is good.”
Still, he may have his work cut out for him. “He’s going to need to gain the confidence of a staff that has been through a lot,” said Councilmember Candace Hollingsworth (Ward 1).
City staff has seen its share of change in recent years. A major reorganization added departments, while many existing ones saw (or awaited) new leadership. There has not been a full-time permanent city administrator since Gregory Rose departed in October 2011.
To replace him, the interview process included separate sessions with staff, council and residents. At a March 23 public meeting at city hall, the eight residents who attended met Schiro and another finalist for the job. They asked preselected questions, many of which addressed how Schiro would handle conflict in a range of situations and how he viewed the role of city administrator in working with stakeholders both inside and outside the city.
“One thing that impressed me were his comments on government transparency and the ability of citizens to freely access information,” said Nina Faye, who has lived here for nearly 25 years and chairs the Code Compliance Advisory Committee. “He said that if someone was asking for information that could be gained through a [Freedom of Information Act request], there’s no reason not to give it to them. I’m very strongly in favor of that.”
The community is invited to meet Schiro and the six new city councilmembers during a reception on May 20, before the members are sworn in at that night’s council meeting. The reception begins at 6 p.m. in council chambers, on the third floor of the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street.