Mayor Greg Fischer has appointed new directors for Louisville Metro Public Works and the county Emergency Management Agency/MetroSafe, and also named a longtime city employee to the new role of chief of public services.
Vanessa Burns will lead Public Works & Assets. She is currently a staff member for the appropriations committee in the Connecticut General Assembly, and has directed public works for the District of Columbia, Evanston, Ill., and New Haven, Ct., the city said.
Debbie Fox will direct EMA/MetroSafe, where she’s currently the deputy director over matters including planning and disaster recovery. Fox previously served as interim director of Metro Animal Services and is a former radio dispatcher for Louisville Metro Police and the old Jefferson County Police.
Fox replaces Doug Hamilton, who Fischer appointed as the chief of public services.
He’ll oversee several Louisville Metro Emergency Medical Services, Louisville Fire & Rescue, EMA MetroSafe, Code & Regulations and Public Works.
Previously, those departments reported to the chief of public safety, along with Louisville Metro Police, Metro Corrections, the Criminal Justice Commission and Youth Detention Services. Those four agencies will on an interim basis report to Ellen Hesen, Fischer’s chief of staff.
Public Safety chief Ishmon Burks has left the position and returned to the faculty of Jefferson Community and Technical College after a stint in metro government, first as interim police chief and then in the public services role. Hamilton, a former chief of the old Louisville Police department, played a high-profile role in the October train derailment in southwestern Jefferson County that caused a series of evacuation and shelter orders.
Hamilton will earn $115,000 in his new role, said Chris Poynter, the mayor’s spokesman. Fox will earn $92,742 and Burns $100,000.
Burns replaces Ted Pullen, who resigned in August following a lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination. In the suit, interim Jefferson County Engineer Paula Wahl alleged that she was appointed to the job on a trial basis so that Pullen could seek a male for the role — and that he had a history of bias against women employees.
Bill Schreck has served as interim Public Works director since Pullen left.
Burns was hired after a national search, the city said.
“She knows government, she knows the constraints of working within tight city budgets and she knows public work projects,” Fischer said in a statement. “The Public Works department, on a day-to-day basis, touches most citizens because the employees do everything from clearing streets of snow to paving roads. Vanessa will be a dynamic member of my team because she’s about getting things done.”