Paula Maville’s Stellar 35-Year Legacy
Over her 35-year career serving the citizens of Lebanon, Deputy City Manager Paula Maville has held many different positions, including the top job of acting city manager. Currently the longest-serving employee with the City, Paula has developed a reputation over her tenure for not only fair and ethical leadership, but also for being a trusted mentor and expert practical problem solver. Now, the lifelong Lebanon resident is embarking on a new chapter – retirement from civic leadership – and is reflecting on her decades long service to the City.
“Looking at that life balance is the way to put it. It’s something that I can afford to do, and after 35 years, I want to take a look at other possibilities until I retire completely from working,” says Paula. “Working for the City has been like having a second family for a lot of years.”
It is a rare individual these days who chooses to stay with one organization over their entire career. Paula started working for the City in 1986 in the planning office as a temporary clerk/typist shortly after graduating from Lebanon High School. “I was only supposed to be there for a few short months to help the City’s zoning & planning administrator Carmella Hennessey. The position became permanent, and then I held several different jobs until 2008 when I transferred to the City manager’s Office,” says Paula.
During her first two decades, Paula worked in the planning, zoning, and building departments, and filled in at the human services office. She worked in the Department of Public Works supporting the engineering, water, waste water, and assessing departments, and had a short stint in the finance department processing payroll. Vicki Lee, the City’s finance director recalls Paula’s contributions, “I’ve worked with Paula for 16 years. Her work ethic, honesty, her attention to detail, her dedication and achievements can never be matched. It won’t be the same here without her.”
Paula reflects, “I feel grateful that I was provided with a lot of opportunity to work with people who recognized all of my skills and abilities and allowed me the opportunity to be part of bigger discussions to sit down and evaluate and help problem solve.” Paula’s broad range of skills and proficiencies have been both finely tuned and expanded over the years. “I’m very much a process person. I can find efficiencies and create systems and processes to make things more efficient. I’m not satisfied with a situation because that’s the way it’s always been done. When I can see a better way, I share that, and I challenge authority.”
Paula has consistently made improvements in systems and procedures wherever she worked, particularly in her role as the executive assistant to the city manager. “When I came to the city manager’s office, within the first three months I changed everything – how agendas were developed, how information was gathered. Eventually, I was promoted to assistant to the city manager, and I took on additional administrative leadership duties. Then the position of deputy city manager was created for me by then city manager Gregg Lewis.” Paula attended Franklin Pierce University while working full time and raising her teen-aged son, and graduated in 2015 with a degree in Management, which enhanced her already considerable business and leadership skills, and met the education requirements for her position.
Paula’s multi-tasking skills were put to use when she served in two executive positions at once during the City’s budget season – interim city manager, a position she held for almost two years, as well as deputy city manager. “I was given an opportunity by the city council to think about whether being the city manager was something I wanted to do on a permanent basis. When I arrived at the decision that it wasn’t and we went into the recruitment process, that was when I felt I could take a breath knowing that my decision had been made and that I was going to be a good support for the incoming city manager.”
Paula’s current and former colleagues call out her communication, organization, and leadership skills. Melanie McDonough, the City’s chief innovation officer, considers Paula an exceptional communicator. “Paula is not just a leader but a team player. She trusts people to do their jobs without micromanaging. She offers honest praise openly, acknowledging and crediting the work others have done. Paula was already qualified with a Ph.D. in the school of life before she earned her degree through smarts, grit, and the ability to manage many things at once.”
Tina Stearns, formerly the executive assistant during Paula’s time as the acting city manager and now finance & administrative services director for the town of Hanover recalls Paula’s work ethic. “Titles never got in the way when work needed to be done. She rolled up her sleeves and did what was necessary to accomplish the end result. Paula is a level-headed thinker and her leadership skills are something I greatly admire.” And Kelly Crate, administrative services manager notes, “Paula helped me find my footing in the municipality sector over 22 years ago and from day one she has been my mentor, always challenging me and giving me the confidence to learn and grow professionally. Her work ethic and ability to problem solve will forever have a lasting impact and has changed our workplace and community for the better.”
City Manager Shaun Mulholland and Mayor Tim McNamara echo the staff’s sentiments. “Paula oversees the planning and human services departments now, and I don’t think it can be stated enough – she produces a lot of work every day and is just as committed as ever. She can get any problem, and solve it effectively. People like that are rare,” says Shaun. “Paula also has good credibility among the staff and excels at coaching and mentoring new leaders because she has come up through the ranks. She is a living example of how you can start in an organization and move up through persistence and willingness to learn.” Mayor Tim McNamara has known Paula since the ’80s during his tenure with engineering firm T & M Associates. “She was invaluable to the planning office. I was always impressed, and still am, with her depth of knowledge, professionalism, and clear devotion to the City as a public servant. It’s her day-to-day devotion to civic duty that sets her apart, and she takes great pride in her role as a civic representative. Her input and perspective are always appreciated.”
Among Paula’s many accomplishments have been co-designing the Lebanon Citizen’s Academy to educate residents on how their city works, and overseeing a process to look at how city operations like financial processes and other operations can be made more efficient. She also convened a team to implement a long-overdue update of the City’s personnel policy. Says Paula, “I’ve always been boots on the ground. I’m definitely collaborative, and I appreciate everyone’s perspective on things. I’ll ask questions to the point where I think there needs to be a statement. I would rather that people work with me than for me.”
For her part, Paula is grateful for the mentors she had early in her career in the planning department, particularly retired zoning administrator Carmela Hennessy. “Coming from where I came, I would not be able to do what I did if I didn’t have people who empowered me. When you can find that and build confidence around that, you see things happen that you might not have expected. A group of women I have worked with all came together and had a necklace designed for me. Inscribed on the back it says, ‘Our Anchor.’ I cherish that. It really made me feel that I have had an impact, and to remember to be responsible and mindful of your impact.”
Kelly Crate sums up the Paula Maville legacy. “It’s impossible to have just one thing to admire about Paula, she has so many great qualities. She is caring, strong, loyal, honest, hardworking, determined, smart, compassionate, has an outstanding work ethic, and has the ability to change things and make a difference for her coworkers and the community.”
What’s in store after retirement for Paula? If City officials have their way, she’ll return to the City in a part-time role, perhaps as a special project manager or technical advisor, but she has ideas, too. “Ideally, I’d like to have my own business helping people organize their spaces and perhaps meal planning/shopping/time management. Helping busy families in organizing their spaces and time, and simplifying their lives.” Sounds like a perfect transition for the City’s retiring expert problem solver.
A Few Words About Paula
“It is difficult to pick just one thing that I admire about Paula as I have never met anyone of her capacity. She has the ability to make everyone who is within her circle feel like they can accomplish anything. A group of us who worked closely with Paula considered her our “Anchor” as she will always tell you like it is. If you have an issue and want it sugar-coated, don’t ask Paula for her advice. She will always tell you like it is.” ~ Tina Stearns, Hanover finance & administrative services director
“Paula truly is such a selfless person I feel so blessed to have had the privilege to not only work with her but to also have her for a very dear friend. She has such a caring nature and is always there for everyone and willing to lend a helping hand and sometimes give some “not subtle” advice but that is what we love about her.” ~ Kelly Crate, Lebanon administrative services manager
“Everything about Paula is so exemplary, I wish there were multiple Paulas.” ~ Lebanon city manager Shaun Mulholland
“Many public servants view their jobs as a stepping stone, and are primarily devoted to their careers. Paula has been primarily devoted to the City then her career. Everything she does is done well.” ~ Lebanon mayor Tim McNamara
“She cares deeply about the public experience and has worked tirelessly to provide professional, friendly, and informative communication through our online platforms, which is often the first experience residents and visitors have with City services. Wherever there is clear communication on the website, there is Paula.” ~ Lebanon chief innovation officer Melanie McDonough