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Pittsfield Picks Veteran Employees as ARPA Fund Managers
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
06:36PM / Monday, November 29, 2021
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Pittsfield's Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer, seen in this file photo, will be resigning her post to take another as co-manager of the city's ARPA funds.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two familiar faces will be serving as the city's special projects managers for the $41 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer and former Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong will share the one full-time position as co-managers.

Mayor Linda Tyer on Monday informed the City Council by email that Ruffer would be resigning from her current post in early to mid-February to take on this new role.

Rather than a resignation, Ruffer sees this as a transition. Armstrong resigned from her position in September, citing a need for more balance in her life and to spend more time with her family.

In the fall, the special projects manager position was created to oversee the city's allocation of ARPA funding. It will likely only be in place over the next five years, until the spending deadline in 2026, and will be paid in full through the ARPA funds.

"I am very excited to transition from the city's Community Development Director Position to co-special project manager for the City's American Rescue Plan program. This opportunity coincides with a personal desire to adjust my work-life balance to allow me to spend more time with family and pursuing personal interests," Ruffer wrote to iBerkshires in an email.

"ARPA is a once-in-a-lifetime transformative opportunity to address many of the community needs I have dedicated my career to addressing. I am humbled and honored to be asked to help shape the city's investment of these funds. While I will miss working with the wonderful and highly qualified staff of the Department of Community Development, I am confident the department's future is in good hands and am committed to supporting the Mayor and staff with the transition to a new director.  I also look forward to continuing to work with many in the department and throughout the city over the next several years."

Tyer highlighted Ruffer and Armstrong's prior work with the city to support her selection.

"As you know, Deanna has extensive experience in community development, neighborhood planning, economic development, and managing federal grants," she wrote in an email. "Gina is a seasoned public health professional who will help guide us through the public health elements of pandemic recovery and also has experience with grants management."

Ruffer was the director of community development for eight years until leaving to take a similar job on Cape Cod in 2012, but then returned around three years ago. Over the next month or so, the city will be conducting a search for a new director of community development. Ruffer said she is willing to stay on for a transition period once a candidate is selected.

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