HAMMOND | Heather Garay will take over as Hammond's new controller, following the departure of Robert Lendi after 10 years with the city.
Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. announced Wednesday that Garay, an attorney who served on the Hammond Human Relations Commission and Hammond Water Works Department Board of Directors, will take over Lendi's post.
"I have known Heather for the past six years," McDermott said. "She is a very talented individual and will be a tremendous asset to the city." A city's controller typically serves as its chief auditor and chief financial officer, receiving, disbursing and generally managing a city's money.
Garay graduated from Northern Illinois University College of Law and was admitted to the Bar in 2009. She received her undergraduate degree from Valparaiso University and studied abroad at John Cabot University in Rome.
Currently employed at Thomas J. Scully III & Associates, she specializes in Social Security disability, veterans disability and tax law. She interned with the city of Hammond in 2008.
As part of the job search, McDermott asked Lendi what kind of background would fit the job, since finding a Certified Public Accountant willing to accept a lower-paying civil job would be rare.
"We opened it up to those with accounting backgrounds, and even attorney backgrounds, and her name popped up," McDermott said. "I was surprised to see she was interested. Not many lawyers are interested in taking a lower-paying job."
He said Garay has knowledge of the city's government structure, so her learning curve will be on the accounting side. McDermott said the staff in the controller's office will also help her acclimate to the responsibilities.
"We've got a great staff there; many have been in that office for a long time," he said.
Ed Krusa, director of the Hammond Water Works Department, will fill Lendi's spot on the Board of Public Works and Safety. Lendi will become director of finance for the American Society of Clinical Pathology in Chicago.