New Finance, Economic and Community Development directors appointed in Dearborn

Jeffrey Watson

Jeffrey Watson

DEARBORN – Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. recently appointed directors to lead two critical departments.

Jeffrey Watson, community services manager in the city of Federal Way, Wash., will take over the Economic and Community Development Department, which includes the Housing Division. He replaces Barry Murray, who retired in January.

Ginger Burke-Miller, with leadership experience and hands-on responsibilities in a range of municipal finance areas, will head the Finance Department, with responsibility for the Treasury, Purchasing, Payroll and Benefits, and Budgeting and Accounting divisions. She replaces Jim O’Connor, who retired in December.

Watson has been in the municipal community development field since 2000, including holding leadership positions in Douglas County, Colo.; Snohomish County, Wash.; and Federal Way, where he has been the community services manager since 2014.

He promoted economic development by working with partners to help businesses attract and retain employees.

He also has designed economic development programs focused on small businesses and start-ups, leading to job creation generated from locally-owned businesses.

Ginger Burke-Miller

Ginger Burke-Miller

“Mr. Watson is very accomplished in his field, and has a proven track record of effecting improvement, especially through collaboration, in the communities he’s served,” O’Reilly said.

“He can connect the dots between economic development, land use, historical preservation, housing issues and community engagement in a way that I know will strengthen Dearborn,” Mayor O’Reilly said.

Burke-Miller was the director of the Finance Department in Berkley, the financial controller in Burton for eight years, and an accountant in Green Oak Township for eight years. She is a board member of the Michigan Government Finance Officers Association.

“Ms. Burke-Miller brings a commitment to public service and transparency in government operations, and presents a well-thought out understanding of the Finance Department’s role in the success of the city,” O’Reilly said.

“Our administrative team will be even stronger with the talents and insight Mr. Watson and Ms. Burke-Miller are bringing to our city,” O’Reilly said. “Their approach to their fields is in line with my vision.”

More on Jeffrey Watson

Watson earned advanced academic degrees in public administration and urban and regional planning, and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“There are many projects and activities taking place to redevelop areas and enhance Dearborn,” Watson said. “I look forward to being part of these efforts, and acknowledge the important efforts of the city over the past decade.

“Dearborn worked to push through the economic downturn and execute projects to enhance the city and demonstrate the community has a vision and willingness to carry it out. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a community that sees its future and works to create it?”

He holds respected professional accreditations as an Economic Development Finance Professional and a Housing Development Finance Professional. He is also accredited by the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Watson will begin as the full-time Economic and Community Development director in late May.

More on Ginger Burke-Miller

Burke-Miller earned a master’s of business administration. She is a licensed certified public accountant and a certified public manager.

Experienced at developing municipal budgets, she has managed audits; supervised treasury operations; and has worked on pension, benefits, and labor negotiations. She also has applied for and administrated grants.

“I have a strong desire to find creative ways to generate alternative streams of revenue for the city,” Burke-Miller said. “An example was a successful grant submission that brought in money to purchase energy-efficient lighting to a community.”

Burton Mayor Paula Zelenko was appreciative for her expertise.

“Mrs. Burke-Miller is very knowledgeable and capable professional who brought many good best practices to the city of Burton,” Zelenko said. “She is always looking for ways to strengthen internal controls, cut costs and streamline work flow.”

Burke-Miller began as Dearborn’s Finance Director April 5.

“I’m excited to partner with the team at the city of Dearborn in furthering Mayor O’Reilly’s dynamic vision for this vibrant community,” Burke-Miller said.