October 11, 2019
Portsmouth NH -- The City Council announced the selection of Karen Sawyer Conard as the next City Manager on October 19 and approved her contract on October 28, 2019. She begins her transition in the job on December 16,
In making the announcement, Mayor Jack Blalock said, “The City Council is delighted to select someone with the depth of experience and strength of character that Karen commands, and see her as a very well-qualified successor to the City Manager who has served Portsmouth so well for the past 22 years. We look forward to welcoming this talented and knowledgeable NH citizen to our community."
Karen Sawyer Conard brings to Portsmouth 28 years of experience in the public sector and a unique network of connections and relationships. She started her career working in the legislative and executive branches of state government, serving in various capacities starting with the Massachusetts State Senate, Office of Governor William Weld, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, Massachusetts Office of Business Development and MassDevelopment, a quasi-public financing authority.
After two years as Chief Operating Officer for a private real estate firm, Karen worked for 11 years as Community Development and Planning Director for the medium-sized cities of Methuen and Peabody, Massachusetts, and currently is finishing her third year as Executive Director of the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, one of thirteen Regional Planning Agencies in Massachusetts. Leading this organization, Ms. Conard and her staff are committed to assisting the 5 cities and 10 towns in the Merrimack Valley region of northeastern Massachusetts adjacent to the New Hampshire board in the planning areas of transportation, the environment, land use, economic development, housing and GIS mapping.
Ms. Conard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and French from Duke University. She currently serves as President of the Board of Housing Support, Inc., a non-profit corporation with a mission to provide housing and related support services to low-income, homeless and/or handicapped individuals and families. In addition, she serves as a Director and Executive Committee member of The Savings Bank, Chairperson of the Board at First Financial Trust, member of the Governor’s Commission on the Future of Transportation in the Commonwealth and Chairperson of the Massachusetts Gaming Policy Advisory Committee (appointed by Governor Charlie Baker). She was a member and past President of the Peabody, MA Rotary Club.