After a sudden departure from City Hall last summer, the city's former chief administrative officer is back — sort of.
Mayor Dwight C. Jones' has retained Sheila Hill-Christian as a consultant. City Hall spokeswoman Tammy Hawley confirms the city will pay Hill-Christian $50,000 for 10 months of advice. The relationship began in mid-January, she says.
Hill-Christian's counsel is expected on filling high-ranking department-head jobs as well as guidance on who should fill the slot she vacated as chief administrative officer to former Mayor L. Douglas Wilder. Hill-Christian says she's not interested in the post.
“With the new mayor on board and things more settled between the mayor's office and City Council I believe Richmond is now positioned to put together a great team,” she tells Style Weekly via e-mail. “I am in a personal and professional place where I believe Richmond is better served by my helping the mayor in this capacity.”
Chris Beschler holds the administrative officer position on an interim basis and has applied to keep the job permanently. He was promoted to the position from director of public utilities Aug. 8, a week after Hill-Christian's hasty and as-yet-unexplained resignation.
In an Aug. 1 e-mail, Hill-Christian announced to news media that she was leaving after 10 months on the job, though notification of major staff changes are typically issued from the press office. Her note offered her personal definition of leadership, going on to say that “in every position I have accepted I have given my all to live up to that definition. When my ability to do so is compromised, I believe it is in my personal best interest, and the interest of taxpayers to move on.”
Hill-Christian was a key adviser to the Jones transition team after the election. Before her departure from City Hall, she was director of the Virginia Lottery, but had previously held upper-level city jobs including executive director of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, chief operating officer for the GRTC Transit System and assistant city manager.