MD OF BIGHORN – Ready to assume her duties as the new CAO, Shaina Tutt is excited about the road ahead.
Tutt, a longtime employee of the MD of Bighorn, will take over the role of the municipality’s top bureaucrat on April 17.
“I’m looking forward to continuing my career in public service,” she said. “I’ve been passionate about it since I started with the municipality. Serving the public is my priority.”
Tutt has spent 13 years with the MD of Bighorn in roles of increasing seniority. She began in the finance department and became the director of finance in 2013, now called the director of corporate and community services.
Since then, she has been gaining an education in local government in a national advance certificate program through Dalhousie University and the University of Alberta. With that, she felt the time was right to put her name forward for the CAO position.
“I am nearing completion of that program and now that I have the education to correspond with my work experience, that is what led me to put my name in the hat,” Tutt said. “I feel I am meeting both the experience and education requirements to be successful.”
Working to continually improve the lives of residents in the MD is something that is important to Tutt, who loves where she lives and works.
“I enjoy the mountains. I enjoy the people,” she said. “The people that are in the municipality are what makes it special to me. There are several unique communities. There is the rural aspect of the municipality which I am passionate about, as well as some of the more urban concepts that are in the Bow Valley.”
Bighorn Reeve Lisa Rosvold had high praise for Shaina upon her hiring.
“I feel wonderful about it,” she said. “Shaina is a great communicator and she is always looking for effective solutions. She is well-known and respected in the community. We trust her and she leads with empathy.”
MD council worked with James Davies at DCG Executive Search Services Ltd. to find a new CAO for the MD. There were 37 candidates who put their names forward, including Tutt, and interviews were done Feb. 17.
“It was not until February we saw how many applicants there were and where they all landed in that list,” Rosvold said.
While Tutt was hired within the organization, the goal heading into the hiring process was not centred around hiring from within.
“Through the recruitment and interview process, it became clear that Shaina would be an excellent internal hire,” Rosvold said. “She knows the community. She knows the staff. She has the corporate history. She has already built a respectable and trusting relationship with our council.”
Rosvold noted Tutt understood the vision that council has moving forward.
Bighorn council approved its strategic plan in 2022, which identifies six goals to use as a basis when making decisions as a council and municipality.
The municipality is undergoing an update of its Municipal Development Plan (MDP), which was previously modified in 2012. It went through eight visioning sessions in 2022 and had feedback from 111 residents.
The statutory document is a high level blueprint for the long-term land use vision of the community. It will return to council at a later date for approval.
“She understands the vision this council has,” Rosvold said. “She knows the MD’s strengths and weaknesses, she is solutions-focused and we really value the trust that we have in her already.”
Tutt also served as the acting CAO following the dismissal of Robert Ellis in the autumn of 2022. She handed over the reins to Frank Besinger, who served as the interim CAO until a permanent one was chosen.
“Frank did a wonderful job in this interim role. He was exactly who we wanted to come in and help start building our team back up,” Rosvold said. “He had an open-door policy. Staff felt comfortable going with him with their concerns and ideas. He brought a lot of experience from his other roles throughout his career.”
Tutt, who will work with Besinger during the transition period, also had high praise for him.
“I think Frank has done a wonderful job in assisting us through this transition period,” Tutt said. “He has been a positive mentor and role model for all of the director positions here and the employees of the municipality.”