By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Helen Perraglio has just stepped into her new position as Los Alamos County Administrative Services Director and she is wasting no time tackling objectives for the department.
Before her promotion, Perraglio was the County’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for seven years.
A replacement will be recruited but in the interim, Deputy CFO Melissa Dadzie is serving as acting CFO.
Perraglio described Administrative Services as several divisions “smooshed” together. These include Finance, Procurement, Information Technology and Records. She oversees about 50 full-time employees and operates with a budget of approximately $14 million.
Administrative Services is not new territory for Perraglio, who served as acting director during the COVID pandemic.
“I was excited to put my hat in the ring,” she said.
Los Alamos County Manager Steven Lynne said he is pleased to have Perraglio in the job.
“The County is very lucky to have someone of Helen’s caliber in this position,” he said. “I am excited that she has taken on this challenge and I know she will be terrific in her new role.”
As the acting director during the pandemic, Perraglio said she addressed everything from remote work to cyber security. Not to mention disaster planning regarding the pandemic.
She said Administrative Services is like the “vital organs” of Los Alamos County government’s body because it allows the County to do what it needs to do. Unlike many other departments, whose direct customer is the public, Administrative Services’ direct customer is the other County departments.
Perraglio said it is a fine balance between providing service and adhering to County procedures.
After working a year and a half in this role, Perraglio said she realized, “I can bring a lot to this group.” Plus, she said, “I have an amazing team …”
So, after serving as acting director for many years, Perragio seized the chance to become the department’s director.
“I can do it good justice and I’m very excited about it because I can mold it into what it needs to be,” she said.
Perraglio said she already has a list of objectives she would like to tackle in her new role. This includes streamlining internal procedures.
For instance, she said, the County has a lengthy list of slated projects, existing ones and projects that need to go out for bid. Perraglio said she would like to streamline this process so that all these projects have a feasible turnaround.
Another task is staying on top of priorities with limited resources to serve the customer. Finally, Perraglio said she wants to ensure her department is a unified team.
“I’m excited to kick that off,” she said.
Teamwork is important, Perraglio said.
“I think we need to have a united goal in the service we are providing,” she said.
It is easy to just focus on the day-to-day job but being united “helps us succeed together, celebrate wins.”
Perraglio added, “I want the team to know that they are part of what makes the County successful for the community.”
Her experience as CFO should be helpful in leading her new team, she said.
“I am really well-suited to understand the challenges we are facing and oversee the actual controls and safeguards.”
Due to her time in the Finance Department, Perraglio said she understands “the unique business needs of our operation. The CFO has definitely given me that leg to stand on to get to the next level.”
While there are many positives to the new job, Perraglio said there are also challenges to be faced. One is the ability to process all the funding needed for all the projects, she said. Another challenge is protecting the County from cyber threats as well as improving emergency planning and addressing the County’s limited bandwidth.
A big challenge is the projected drop in gross receipt tax revenue from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Perraglio said the potential drop in revenue will require the County to adjust its budget accordingly.
Despite the hard work ahead, Perraglio said she really enjoys working for Los Alamos County.
“I feel this is one of the best organizations to work for,” she said. “We have the opportunity to be involved in so many unique operations.”
During her 11-year tenure at Los Alamos County, Perraglio has had many highlights. For instance, the Finance Department earned the Triple Crown Honor, which is the highest honor from the Government Finance Officers Association, four years in a row. Furthermore, she and Dadzie received national leadership awards from the Association of Government Accountants within the last five years.
Perraglio said she really enjoyed being the CFO but to move her career in a new direction, “is very exciting.”
She also offers some advice to whomever assumes her former position.
“Be willing to work much harder than your team. Lead by example and be open to making massive decisions you may be given each day,” Perraglio said. “Support the team, (too). The team is amazing; they deserve a great leader.”
She added she is always there to give advice.
“I’m still here. I’m here to help.”