Michelle Reeder started her first day on the job Friday as the new Norwalk finance director. The lifelong Norwalk resident and 1996 St. Paul High School graduate was hired in the finance department in 2005.
“My biggest challenge is the standard Diane (Eschen) has set for the city with all her impeccable audits,” Reeder said. “I’m excited — thrilled to have the opportunity.”
In June, Eschen announced her retirement, which was effective Thursday, after 45 years of serving Norwalk. City council, in mid-July, selected Reeder as her replacement. She had been the assistant finance director since 2011.
Reeder said her prior experience helped prepare her since she knows the city departments, the department heads and she has been involved with the day-to-day finances of the city.
“I’m very proud of what she has done here. She started an entry level and worked her way up. She’s ready to serve the city of Norwalk,” said Reeder’s husband, Rick.
Reeder’s family, including Rick and their 10-year-old son Aiden, Reeder’s aunt, Janet McGuckin, of Huron; and her aunt and uncle, Shirley and Steve Gray, of North Fairfield, came to city hall Friday morning when Reeder took her oath of office.
“We’re excited about Michelle. I think she has some interesting ideas. She will continue the great work Diane has done,” Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan said. “It’s an exciting day for Norwalk.
“We believe Michelle will do a fantastic job,” he added.
Norwalk Law Director Stuart O’Hara also gave Reeder his vote of confidence.
“I think she’ll do a great job,” he said, noting Reeder brings experience, stability and continuity to her new job. “I also think she has the temperament to keep all the department heads in line.”
Reeder’s training under Eschen will be good for the city, Councilman Chris Castle said.
Castle said what’s especially exciting is the city has a “core group of young civil servants” — Reeder, safety-service director Dan Wendt, public works director Josh Snyder and zoning inspector Mitch Loughton — “who possibly could work together for decades.”
The fourth-ward councilman was asked what Reeder brings to her new job.
“First of all, she’s brilliant,” Castle said. “But on top of that, she’s got a ton of energy; she’s a worker. I think as young as she is … she will be around for a very long time.”