MORRIS COuNTY — Assistant Morris County Administrator Deena Leary has been appointed Acting Administrator by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners, placing her at the helm of county operations and ready to assume the post when long-time Administrator John Bonanni officially retires at year’s end.
Ms. Leary, who lives in Harding, began her career with Morris County as an intern in 1995 with the Division of Transportation Management. She worked through the ranks to become Director of Planning & Development in 2011, and was promoted in 2013 to lead a new combined department of Planning & Public Works before being appointed Assistant Morris County Administrator in August 2017.
“I know I speak for the entire board when I say there is no one else more suitable than Deena Leary to step in as our administrator. She literally has worked her way to the top, understanding first-hand the inner workings of our county government for almost 30 years. While John Bonanni will be sorely missed, Morris County could not be left in better hands when he leaves in the New Year,” said Commissioner Director Tayfun Selen.
The appointment, recommended by Mr. Bonanni, was made at last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting, where Commissioner Deborah Smith noted Ms. Leary had served as acting administrator recently when Mr. Bonanni was on medical leave.
“She did a phenomenal job. The beat kept going, and it was a smooth transition,” said Commissioner Smith. “I just want to commend her on her excellent work ethic and I know she will be an excellent leader for the county — and I also point out, as a diversity factor, she is the first female administrator in Morris County. I think that is terrific also.”
Bonanni, who plans to retire after the New Year, commended the board for Ms. Leary’s appointment.
“I want to congratulate Deena, but equally important, I want to thank this governing body for not making positions around here political, but functional – and Deena is a perfect example of that. This governing body looks at the qualifications of people, and I thank you for that,” said Bonanni.
Commissioner Douglas Cabana, who joined the board in 1997 and remains the longest serving Commissioner still on the board, cited Ms. Leary’s many years in leadership roles within county government.
“I’ve known Deena for many years, and she has the respect of local officials everywhere. She is usually found working well past the time most others have gone home for the day trying to solve problems and get things done for the residents of Morris County. She has been a go-to person for many of our local officials and is always deeply involved in developing our biggest projects, most recently our COVID-19 response and our Small Business Grant Program. We are fortunate to have her with us and willing to step into this key position,” said Commissioner Cabana.
Ms. Leary earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University in 2018. Her undergraduate degree from Susquehanna University is in Environmental Science and Economics.
She became certified through the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2008 and has been a licensed Professional Planner in New Jersey since 2009.
Ms. Leary grew up and spent most of her life in Jefferson Township and became a Harding Township resident in 2018.