WHITMAN — When Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green moved to Whitman 15 years ago,with her husband Ed, who works for Shaw’s markets, and now-16-year-old son Jason, a member of the WHRHS baseball team, they felt they had found a hometown, and she became involved in the community.
At the time, Green had no inkling she would be helping administer town government, but that’s where her road led. Perhaps a journey is the most apt metaphor for this public servant who began her working life as a travel agent, which she did for about 20 years before going to law school.
Green grew up in Brockton, but as her father is a good friend with James Reed from Reed’s Automotive on Temple Street, she was in Whitman a lot growing up.
“Travel was kind of going in a different direction because of the Internet,” she said of her change in career direction. “Travel agencies were kind of a dying breed … it was very much a changing industry.”
She initially went back to school with the idea of becoming a paralegal, and continued to obtain her law degree. Before beginning her new position of assistant town administrator, Green had been an adjudicator for the federal Social Security Administration.
She stepped down from her seat on the Board of Selectmen in October to meet the separation requirements involved in applying for her new post — and received the vote of all four of her former colleagues on the board to win the job.
The Express sat down to talk with Green in her Town Hall office Thursday, Dec. 8.
: What drew you into public service?
A: “Social Security is considered public service. I worked there for eight years and I was also very heavily involved with the [Whitman Baseball and Softball Association] WBSA. I worked on getting scoreboards for some of our baseball fields and was successful in getting two. I liked that a lot and decided to run for selectman when I saw there was a seat open. … I enjoyed the five years of being a selectman and really learning about Whitman.
“Being a selectman really taught me about the inside — the government and running a town. I heard that [former Assistant Town Administrator] Greg [Enos] was leaving, I had given it a lot of thought and resigned from the board and applied for the position.”
Q: Is this something of a dream job — working in the town in which you live?
A: “It is. It’s funny, when people say to me, ‘What a commute you have — a five-minute, commute,’ I think I’ve paid my dues. I worked at the airport, so I traveled from Brockton to Boston every day and then I worked in Dedham when I worked at the travel agency, and then worked in Boston again — Quincy, Braintree — with SSA.
“Actually, when I became a selectman, I never thought it would lead to a full-time career in municipal management, but here I am today, and very excited to be here and very motivated.”
Q: It must have been gratifying to have the support of all four of your former colleagues.
A: “Yes, it was. I was very grateful to them for having that kind of faith in me. Sometimes you don’t know if you’re doing a good job, a bad job or an OK job — you’re not really sure. But when they all voted for me it was very gratifying. I was overwhelmed and can’t thank them enough for placing me in this position.”
Q: How is this job different from working for the SSA, other than the level of government?
A: “I mainly worked in disability, in the law end of it in the general counsel’s office. That’s where they defended Social Security against lawsuits filed against them. When I was promoted to an adjudicator for the disability applications, that’s an important job because you’ve got people’s life in your hands. … They are relying on you, basically, to help them live with disability. It was a demanding job. We were given a certain amount of cases every week and we had to make quick decisions so people weren’t waiting a long time.
“Coming down to this level of government, I’m now working for the town. It’s a small town and people are very comfortable coming in and talking with you about concerns they have, complaints that they have and I think it’s important that people know they can come to us and talk to us.”
Q: Does your SSA background help at the town level?
A: “I can answer some questions regarding retirement, but that wasn’t really my expertise … I was more involved with disability. But I can certainly put my legal and Social Security background to work to benefit the town.”
Q: What do you like best about living in Whitman?
A: “It’s a small town, which I love. It’s a pretty town. There are a lot of dedicated people who live here. They put their time into the town. The WBSA — everybody there is very dedicated to the kids — football, soccer, there’s a lot of small-town activities that go on here. Businesses support Whitman. You get to know so many people in the town. That couldn’t happen in Brockton.”
Q: How do you envision your new role?
A: “I want to make sure that I am looking into any grants out there that will help improve Whitman, either infrastructure, the environment or human services. I’m going to be taking a grant-writing course — my writing expertise is in legal writing, but I have that talent because I’ve had training — so now I want to focus that writing ability toward grants. You need to be versed in budgeting … and I need to learn what people look for [in a grant application].
“Greg was successful in getting Whitman recognized as a green community. I want to make sure I continue that, because there are a lot of grants out there for green communities … funds for the food pantry, animal control and things like that.”
Q: What’s been the biggest surprise about the job so far?
A: “I’m very touched by how welcoming everybody has been … within Town Hall and by all the town employees in Whitman. Sometimes, when a new person comes in, some people can have a little reservation toward them. I’ve had a presence as selectman for five years so they knew me a little bit. It’s a complex position, there’s going to be baby steps, Frank is a great mentor and is very patient in teaching me different things.”