Hillsborough Selects Finance Director

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Hillsborough Selects Finance Director
Daphna Schwartz

The Town of Hillsborough has selected a new finance director.

Daphna Schwartz, executive director of financial services and assistant finance officer for Guilford County Schools, will start work Aug. 28. She replaces former Finance Director Heidi Lamay, who resigned in February after more than three years of service.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Town of Hillsborough as its finance director,” Schwartz said. “All of the people I have met so far are smart and dedicated to the success of the town. I look forward to joining such a top-notch team and serving the citizens of Hillsborough.”

Schwartz was selected from a pool of more than 40 applicants. As finance director, she will oversee all aspects of the town’s financial operations; supervise the finance, billing and collections, and meter reading divisions; and oversee and participate in annual audit and budget processes.

“Having a finance director who is experienced in a variety of areas is essential when dealing with the public’s money and is a key part of running an effective operation,” Hillsborough Town Manager Eric Peterson said. “We are extremely fortunate to have hired Daphna Schwartz, as she comes to the Town of Hillsborough with a wide array of governmental finance, accounting, risk management, budget, and other critical experience. She is a proven problem-solver who gets things done, has a reputation as a team-player, and is dedicated to serving the community.”

Schwartz has worked the past seven years for Guilford County Schools, most recently overseeing financial areas such as accounting, internal audits, fixed assets, and risk management and developing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with fiscal laws and regulations. Top priorities for her in Hillsborough will include continuing to pursue:

  • Efficiency improvements to help in serving Hillsborough’s growing population
  • Streamlined processes to control costs
  • Improvements to the utility billing system experience.

“The utility billing system has proved to be extremely frustrating for customers and town staff alike and is a high priority,” the town manager said.

Schwartz is a chartered global management accountant, certified public accountant and certified school business director. She was one of three finalists to go through a daylong assessment center following a phone interview. The overall selection process included:

  • Screening for relevant skill, education and experience.
  • 29 questions into the details of experience related to the needs of the finance director position.
  • Interactive exercise with finance and billing and collections employees. Candidates were rated by the employees as well as by a panel of reviewers from inside and outside of the organization.
  • Panel interview with department heads.
  • Technical, budget, and management panel interview with the town manager, budget director, and assistant to the town manager.
  • Meetings and a tour of facilities with the assistant finance director, billing and collections supervisor, and human resources director.
  • Two written scenarios that were rated for writing quality and content.
  • Portfolio of work examples, including various analyses with recommendations, spreadsheets, policies and correspondence.

Schwartz earned bachelor of science degrees in accounting and finance from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, and a master of business administration from Elon University.

“Special recognition goes to the entire Finance Department team, who have done an outstanding job during this transition,” the town manager said.

Assistant Finance Director Phillip Cordeiro has been serving as acting finance director, working with finance division employees to make operational improvements and to address unexpected challenges to keeping operations running smoothly. Billing and Collections Supervisor Jenny Overman has been leading the billing operations, working with her team to help many water and sewer customers solve frustrating problems that have arisen due to the new billing and collections system.

“Having an existing staff that’s talented, combined with the experience and technical knowledge Ms. Schwartz brings to the job, should build an even stronger team to better serve the Hillsborough community,” Peterson said.