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Mayor’s staff shifts

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 by Jo Clifton

After just 10 months, Vanessa Sarria, who has been policy initiative and advancement director for Mayor Steve Adler, is stepping down from her post. Sarria told the Austin Monitor that she wants to spend some more time with her family. “The mayor is a very hard-working man, and I have a 9-year-old and 14-year-old. I really would like to be at their school events.” Doing so is particularly difficult because Sarria and her family live near Lakeline Mall. “This is a wonderful opportunity but not the best time of my life,” she said. Prior to going to work for the mayor, Sarria was executive director of the Community Advancement Network, a job that allowed considerably more flexibility, she said. The mayor is well-known for attending events and scheduling meetings from early morning until late at night, seven days a week. Sarria said that she would continue to work in the community on issues such as affordability, equity and opportunity. Jim Wick, who was Adler’s campaign manager and has been director of community engagement in the mayor’s office, will take over Sarria’s role, which means that he will be leaving his communications job, taking over the agenda process and helping to direct initiatives. Adler policy adviser Lesley Varghese is close to full term in her pregnancy, Wick said, and she is currently working from home. When the baby arrives, she will go on maternity leave, although it is not clear how long she will be gone, he said. He added that Monica Williams has been hired to temporarily fill in for Varghese. The city has posted a job opening for communications director in the mayor’s office to take over the work that Wick has been doing. Others working in the office include John-Michael Cortez, Brandi Clark Burton, Kazique Prince, Frank Rodriguez, Sly Majid, Nancy Cardenas and Barbara Shack.

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