New assistant county administrator is a fixer and helper

New assistant county administrator is a fixer and helper

By Madeline Otten

The job of assistant county administrator has been vacant in Fluvanna County’s government for over eight years. It was not until recently that the position was filled on June 10 by Kelly Belanger Harris.

Residents might already know of Belanger Harris since she was the senior program administration assistant in the Planning Department in 2014 as well as clerk to the Board of Supervisors in 2015. But now, community members can learn more about her through her new role as assistant county administrator.

In her role, Belanger Harris works with community engagement and public information. She wears many hats by working as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer, public information officer, website and social media manager, and internal controls. She is also the primary assistant to the county administrator.

“This position gives me some creative freedom,” said Belanger Harris. “I still have to color in the lines, but I get to pick the colors!”

Her day-to-day responsibilities are never the same and she responds as much as initiates. For example, for the FOIA requests, she approaches each request for records with the same level of attention and responsiveness. She does not want community members to wait longer than it takes to research and respond, and she wants the requestor to receive the records they have requested, if the records exist. While some records take a little longer to be reviewed for legal and appropriate exclusion, Belanger Harris will make sure the job is done.

“I love people. I’m a fixer and a helper,” said Belanger Harris “Requests for records can be challenging, but I like knowing that I have done the best I can do, as the law requires, and hopefully to the satisfaction of the requester. The most rewarding thing I do is help. Help citizens, help colleagues. I think one of the most powerful things we can do is ask, ‘How can I help?’ And then listen.”

Over the next couple of years, Belanger Harris is excited to continue to improve the county’s transparency and accessibility and finding and implementing more ways for citizens to be involved and understand the workings of the county. For her personal goal within her new role, she wants to use her accumulated knowledge and skills to reach the goals that are set for the county. She also hopes to help with the 2020 Resident Survey and the 2020 Report to Citizens.

“I’m a behind-the-scenes person – this position has the potential to put me front and center a bit more,” said Belanger Harris. “Even though I’m an absolute extrovert, I’m much more comfortable leading from behind and letting others stand out.”

Belanger Harris grew up in Louisa County and then moved to and lived in Florida for 15 years. Due to job scarcity in north Florida in 2013/ 2014, Belanger Harris and her husband, Clark, decided to expand their search. When her husband found a job in Charlottesville, it made the move easier knowing they would be closer to family. A week after their move, she started working for the county in the Planning Department.

Belanger Harris also earned her graduated degree in organizational leadership with a focus on servant-leadership from Gonzaga University. Before working for the county, she also worked as a massage therapist, and assistant inn keeper, and veterinary assistant. She even stumbled into non-profit management and congregational management.

In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, listening to music, being in nature, and travelling. She lives just over the line in Louisa County and has two daughters, Aine – 19 and Gigi – 11. Since Belanger Harris grew up in Louisa, she has a lot of family in both Louisa and Fluvanna County whom she can visit and spend time.


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