BURLINGTON, N.C. — Renee Ward remembers it like it was yesterday.
She was 23 years old when she started working for the City of Burlington.
She quickly proved herself to be someone the community and her colleagues could count on.
“I’ve served as the administrative assistant to three different chiefs here in Burlington, and then I was promoted to the city manager’s office where I was the manager’s administrative assistant and deputy city clerk. Then after serving in that role for about 7 years, I was promoted to city clerk,” Ward said.
Two years ago, The Burlington Police Department needed someone to fill an administrative role when a staff member retired.
“We were really concerned about how we were going to fill those big shoes,” Burlington Police Chief Jeffrey Smythe said.
Smythe knew Ward was the right person for the job.
Ward left her position as city clerk to return as the administrative assistant for the police department.
Smythe says Ward is the first voice people hear, usually when they’re upset about an issue, but her skillset for using compassion and understanding often puts people at ease.
“When she talks to you, you know she’s listening, and then she knows all the resources,” he said. “So even if it’s not a police problem, she’s perfectly able to say, ‘I know so and so at code enforcement, we’ll get you over there, or that’s a water issue, we’ll call this person’ and just immediately routes people to the right place so they don’t get the runaround.”
“In these roles that I’ve served over 30 years, that’s been one of the greatest things I’ve been able to do is serve the citizens,” Ward said.
From her 30 years with the City of Burlington, Ward spent 17 working with police.
To Honor Ward’s retirement, police gave her a service recognition plaque.
She also received a certificate of appreciation from the North Carolina House of Representatives.
The state flag was flown over the state capital for her service.