Aubrey Hale knew early on she wanted to work in municipal government.

"I grew up in city hall," she said. "My dad worked for the city of Springfield as a building inspector, and I would go visit him. When I was 8, I knew who the city manager was."

During her high school years, she said, she began "hanging out" even more often in the Clark County offices, where her father served as director of the county's community- and economic-development department.

"By the time I got to high school, I understood local government, and it was really interesting to me," Hale said. "I just never imagined doing anything else. Then, when I was in college, I began to realize that you could change people's perceptions about government with one interaction.

"That's the part of working in local government that really appeals to me," she said. "Especially in a smaller community like Grandview, you have the chance to really make a connection with people."

Hale was appointed last month by Grandview Heights Mayor Greta Kearns as the city's strategy and engagement officer.

Hale began her new position Jan. 27. Her annual salary is $70,000, Kearns said, and she receives the same insurance benefits as other employees, with the city paying 85% of her premiums.

The position fulfills the role of assistant to the mayor, a position Kearns proposed as part of her effort to restructure and modernize the city's administrative staffing model since she took office Jan. 1.

City Council approved legislation to create the mayor's-assistant and IT-director positions at its Jan. 6 meeting.

Hale has more than five years of municipal government experience, most recently serving as a management analyst with the city of Troy after completing internships there and with the city of Springfield. She has a master's degree in public administration from Ohio State University.

"I'm thrilled to have her on board," Kearns said. "She has a passion for service, and in her role in Troy, she had experience working with all the various departments in the city."

That general knowledge regarding city operations will be important for the strategy and engagement officer, who will do the "heavy lifting" of helping to pull together each department into a cohesive whole, she said.

"This administration is committed to being as integrated in our operations as we can as a city. Our operations are not siloed," Kearns said. "Each city operation is specialized, and I think it's important to have a centralized administrator who can be a point person for all our departments."

Although the strategy and engagement officer role still is being defined, Kearns said, she sees Hale's job as providing "program support, strategy, public outreach, outreach to our departments and department support."

"I'll have the opportunity to interact with a lot of organizations, residents and employees," Hale said. "My position will be getting to interact with all the departments, helping out where needed, including special projects and public information as Grandview continues to grow and change."

Hale said in the information age, Kearns and chief of staff/director of operations Bob Dvoraczky believe local government should be a resource where people can find out what's going on in their community and be reminded of what their tax dollars are being used for.

"We want to be more proactive, not reactive, in getting information out to residents," she said.

Kearns said the new position is part of her effort to restructure and modernize the city's administrative model.

"We're adding these new positions working within our existing budget," she said. "It doesn't require any additional money."

Hale's position replaces the administrative secretary/clerk-of-council role held by Debbie Nicodemus before she retired at the end of 2019.

"I would have only been able to appoint someone in a secretarial position before we created these new roles, but that wasn't the area of greatest need," Kearns said.

The new position needed to be more administrative in nature, she said.

Leilani Napier now serves as clerk of council.