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Molinaro Announces Key Appointments

Published: 12/22/2015

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie, NY… Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro has announced appointments for three key senior posts, including Budget Director and Assistant County Executive positions.

“The positions of Budget Director and Assistant County Executive are key roles in the administration and we have been fortunate to have dedicated, quality individuals in those roles.   As those individuals move on to new chapters in new roles or in retirement,   I am very pleased to have been able to look within Dutchess County Government’s current ranks to find individuals with the same caliber of talent, experience and dedication these key roles require.   This is an exciting time for our administration, and it is with great pleasure I announce Jessica White will serve as Budget Director, Christopher Baiano will serve as Assistant County Executive and Ron Hicks will serve as Assistant County Executive for Economic Development,” said County Executive Molinaro.

Budget Director

County Executive Molinaro has appointed Jessica White to serve as Budget Director, following the retirement of current Budget Director Valerie Sommerville.    Ms. White has served in Dutchess County’s Budget Office for 15 years.

Ms. White began her service with Dutchess County Government in 2000, when she was hired as a Research Analyst for the Budget Office.   She was promoted to Senior Research Analyst in 2004, and she has had oversight responsibility for eleven county departments’ annual budget submissions and administration.   She has served on the County’s Health & Human Services Cabinet and has been involved with key policy implementation, including the consolidation of multiple departments over the past several years and the development of a new performance management system for management and confidential employees.

Ms. White is a graduate of Arlington High School.   She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY Oneonta with a dual major in Accounting and Economics, as well as a Master of in Public Administration from Marist College.  Prior to joining Dutchess County Government, she worked as a corporate accountant for Transamerica Leasing, Inc. and EM Industries, Inc. both in Westchester County.   She resides in Poughkeepsie with her husband, Brian, and their two children.  She is active in the community, having previously served on the Board of Directors for Mill Street Loft and currently engaged as a volunteer with the Arthur S. May PTA.

As Budget Director, Ms. White will be responsible for the preparation, implementation and administration of the $456 million county operating budget, involving responsibility for the formulation of major financial and fiscal policies under the general direction of the County Executive. The Budget Director also serves as a member of the Capital Projects Committee, labor negotiations team and interacts with the County Legislature and its committees to present and justify budget recommendations of the County Executive.  

Ms. White’s appointment as Budget Director will begin on February 1st, 2016.

Assistant County Executive 

County Executive Molinaro has selected Christopher Baiano to serve as Assistant County Executive, following the departure of current Assistant County Executive Michael Ellison, who is returning to Albany to serve in the Majority Conference in the New York State Senate.   As Assistant County Executive, Mr. Baiano will oversee several county departments and serve as a senior policy advisor.

Mr. Baiano currently serves as Deputy Commissioner for the Dutchess County Board of Elections, where his responsibilities include managing the day-to-day operations of the department.     Prior to his role at the BOE, he served as Deputy Clerk in the Dutchess County Clerk’s Office from 2004 to 2007, when he managed a staff of more than 30 employees and was responsible for the daily operations of five Department of Motor Vehicles offices, in addition to a wide variety of other responsibilities.

Mr. Baiano has also served in elected office as City of Poughkeepsie Councilmember from 1998 to 2002 and then as Dutchess County Legislator in 2003.   Mr. Baiano also owned and operated a successful small business for more than a decade.

Mr. Baiano holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics/Business Administration from SUNY Albany and is a resident of the City of Poughkeepsie with his wife, Sarah.   He has been engaged in numerous professional and community activities, including serving as a Commissioner for the Poughkeepsie Public Housing Authority from 2003 to 2006, as well as serving as a member of the Neighborhood Economic & Cultural Activities Program, City of Poughkeepsie Youth Commission, the Dutchess County Child Protection Commission and the McCann-Caven Board of Directors.

Mr. Baiano will begin serving as Assistant County Executive on January 4, 2016.

Assistant County Executive – Economic Development  

As part of the culmination of the restructuring of the County’s economic development apparatus, the Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Planning and Economic Development position was reclassified as Assistant County Executive for Economic Development in the 2016 county budget.    Ron Hicks, who has served as Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Planning and Economic Development since 2012, becomes Assistant County Executive for Economic Development officially on January 1, 2016.

Mr. Hicks has been instrumental in the consolidation of the Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation and the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency for greater efficiency and effectiveness as part of the County’s Economic Development Strategy efforts.    Other efforts Mr. Hicks has spearheaded have included internal reform of permitting and review processes, downtown redevelopment efforts, infrastructure planning and investment, and a targeted business attraction campaign for new job creation.

Mr. Hicks holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Marist College and is a resident of LaGrange.  As Assistant County Executive, Mr. Hicks will serve as senior policy advisor and oversee all contracts and agreements related to employment, workforce, agri-business, business, tourism and economic development, including contracts with the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce, Dutchess County Local Development Corporation, Dutchess County Workforce Investment Board, Dutchess Community College, and Dutchess Tourism.  Hicks will also oversee the business and real estate development of the Dutchess County Airport.  Hicks will also manage the County's Economic Development Advisory Council, and the Think Dutchess Alliance for Business initiative, which includes coordinating the county's economic development apparatus.

County Executive Molinaro said, “The vast experience Jessica, Chris and Ron each bring to their new roles make them a credit to Dutchess County and the ideal candidates to fill their respective positions. Over the years, each of them have greatly contributed to Dutchess County – whether preparing balanced budgets that benefited County taxpayers, passing legislation that safeguarded residents, or promoting Dutchess throughout New York and beyond, making our County attractive to outside business and bringing new jobs to our community.  Through their understanding of local issues, years of involvement and passion for our County, Jessica, Chris and Ron will help us move Dutchess forward, building on the successful strides their predecessors made while putting their own unique imprint on Dutchess County Government.”