Griffin to step down as Hanover town manager next year

  • Julia Griffin

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/28/2021 6:54:00 PM
Modified: 10/28/2021 9:53:46 PM

HANOVER — Longtime Town Manager Julia Griffin plans to retire next year after Town Meeting in May, ending a 25-year reign in Hanover.

Griffin, who turns 65 in early December, said the Selectboard is preparing to launch a national search for her successor after the upcoming holidays.

“The Board anticipates completing the search by early spring and I will remain on board until my successor is ready to take over the reins,” Griffin said in an email to reporters Thursday.

Griffin, who currently earns $157,000, has been a major force both in the Upper Valley and in pressing for municipal issues and funding at the state level.

“It’s been an amazing run,” said longtime Hanover Selectboard Chairman Peter Christie, who cited Griffin’s “staying power and fortitude.”

He also noted that most town managers rarely stay in the same job for more than seven years or so. “We’ve just been extremely lucky to have her with us for 25 years.”

Griffin helped Hanover on a number of fronts, Christie said, collaborating with then-Selectboard Chairman Brian Walsh to broker a deal two decades ago with Dartmouth College and the Dresden School District that made it possible to renovate Hanover High School and build Richmond Middle School; pushing for the acquisition of land for Mink Brook Community Forest; and most recently, as part of the Sustainable Hanover campaign, seeing through the construction of two solar power farms in town to meet almost all of the electricity demand for municipal buildings.

State Rep. Sharon Nordgren, D-Hanover, said Griffin has also worked closely with Dartmouth and was an important asset for lawmakers in Concord. Griffin had served on the New Hampshire Retirement System Board of Trustees, and frequently warned about the “cost shift” that state budget items might impose on New Hampshire cities and towns. (Republican Gov. Chris Sununu chose not to reappoint her to the board four years ago despite a renomination by the New Hampshire Municipal Association and a recommendation from Republican Executive Councilor Joe Kenney).

“She’s always been really helpful in giving us information about municipal issues,” Nordgren said.

Hanover residents also appear to approve of her tenure. At Town Meeting in July, they voted, 1,200-475, to continue the town manager form of government, defeating a petitioned article signed mainly by Dartmouth students. Griffin had drawn criticism from some Dartmouth students for COVID-19 safety protocols.

Griffin came to Hanover in 1996 after serving as city manager in Concord. When she started the Hanover job, she had a 7-year-old daughter and 3-month-old son. They are both now “college-educated and fully launched in their careers, thanks to a wonderful education in the Hanover and Dresden School Districts,” Griffin said via email.

She and her husband John Steidl, who works for Dartmouth College, plan to remain in town for the foreseeable future, but Griffin promised to keep a low profile when it comes to municipal matters once she leaves office.

Still, she could not resist taking a characteristic jab at the powers-that-be in Concord.

“John and I have no plans to leave this wonderful place. We love our home, we love this community and the Upper Valley and we love New England,” Griffin said. “The official state of NH ... not so much. Just wish I had the energy to change it for the better.”

John Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com or 603-727-3217.




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