Viewers of Tuesday’s Jefferson County Commission committee meeting were given a hint of what was to come in today’s commission meeting.
Even if they didn’t realize it.
Revenue Director Travis Hulsey, the county’s interim chief financial officer, was about to present financial resolutions when commissioners asked that deputy CFO Angela Dixon make the presentation instead.
They did that because Dixon was hired today to be the county CFO, replacing John Henry, who left for a job in Washington, D.C., in January.
The commission also authorized the hiring of Nigel Roberts as assistant director of community services and workforce development.
“I was very surprised,” Dixon said of being called on Tuesday, “but you have to be ready at all times.”
A native of Valley, Alabama, in Chambers County, Dixon earned bachelor of science degree from Alabama State University before earning a master of accounting degree from Auburn University. She has worked for Jefferson County since September 2017.
The new CFO declined to give her age, saying only that she celebrated a milestone birthday this year.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity (and) I’m very humbled by the opportunity as well,” she said. “This is something that you just work for academically. You get your degrees; you do the work, and to be able to have an opportunity like this is so exciting.”
Jefferson County has been under a consent decree since 1982, after plaintiffs sued alleging that the county and other defendants had been discriminating based on race and sex with respect to recruitment, hiring, assignment, promotion, discipline and other terms and conditions of employment.
Part of the county’s hiring process is to put applicants through an assessment center where they experience a “day in the life” of the job they are seeking. It is a blind draw in which County Manager Tony Petelos, for whom the applicant works, does not know who is being considered.
“They’re numbers up on the board,” Petelos said of applicants in the assessment center. “We have different assessors in there who were making assessments about particular candidates, and she scored at the top.”
Petelos said Dixon is familiar with county operations, which is going to be very helpful. A new person coming in would have likely taken about a year to come up to speed with the complicated finances at the county, he said.
“We’re very excited that she was at the top of the list,” the county manager said, “and very excited that we were able to secure her as a new CFO for Jefferson County.”
The county has come through bankruptcy and is now, like the rest of the world, dealing with a pandemic. Dixon acknowledged that the job is challenging, but she said she believes she and the financial team are up to that challenge.
“I’m used to being involved in the details. I’m used to cutting, in making sure that we are prudent in our spending,” she said. “It is absolutely going to be a challenge, but I am poised to face the challenge and I’m looking forward to looking on the other side of this to say we got through that.
“We have a great finance team already,” Dixon continued, “and we’re just going to utilize those folks and make the adjustments we need to make.”