GIRARD — Johanna O’Brien Winter is no stranger to Southeast Kansas. She’s lived and worked in the area all her life, and now she’s taking on a new role with the City of Girard.

The Girard City Council approved an employment agreement with Winter at its October 16 meeting, officially hiring her as city administrator.

Winter said she has watched administrators come and go over the last six years, but never applied. Her children attend Girard schools and she said she wasn’t ready to adopt the necessary work/family balance required by a government position — until now.

“I have turned down some good opportunities with governmental entities because the positions would have necessitated adopting a work/family balance I was not comfortable with,” she said. “When the position became available, I just thought it was time, and it was the right opportunity in the right community.”

Winter grew up in St. Paul, and she and her husband lived in Labette and Neosho counties before settling on a small farm in Crawford County — where they’ve lived for nearly 10 years.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Pittsburg State University, with a pre-law emphasis, before being accepted to Washburn Law School. Shortly after acceptance, her daughter became ill, and Winter did not enroll.

She was then offered a fellowship and graduate research assistant position at the Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs at Wichita State University. Winter earned a master's degree in public administration and graduate certificate in public finance from WSU.

Winter plans to use this experience not to push an agenda, but to provide insight so that the governing body can make the most informed decisions possible — and then move those decisions forward.

“My role will be to objectively inform and perform,” she said. “I will be a source of information to the city council but not the only source. The council makes the executive decisions, and I work to ensure those decisions are executed effectively.”

A firm understanding of the city is Winter's’ first goal when she takes over Nov. 1. She said she wants to become familiar with the culture and processes of the organization.

“During the interview process I was able to meet with department directors, and they are all doing so many things,” she said. “I am certain they can bring me up to speed quickly.”

Winter previously worked at the Kansas Public Finance Center as a research assistant, as the director of the Girard Area Chamber of Commerce and with Catholic Charities Wichita as program director in southeast Kansas.

She is taking over the vacancy left by Chris Weiner, who accepted a job earlier this year as city manager in Garnett.

Winter agreed to a salary of $64,000 per year.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.