Harnett County Manager Paula K. Stewart, recently earned the Credentialed Manager designation from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). To receive the prestigious ICMA credential, a member must have significant experience as a senior management executive in local government; have earned a degree, preferably in public administration or a related field; and demonstrated a commitment to high standards of integrity and to lifelong learning and professional development.
Stewart was hired as Harnett County’s first female County Manager in April 2018. She came to Harnett County in 1996 as IT Director, and joined Harnett County’s administrative team as interim Deputy County Manager in February 2015. She was named Deputy County Manager in May 2015, and was appointed as interim County Manager in October 2017.
As County Manager, Stewart has focused on priorities including: improving customer service to the county’s residents, expanding access to County services, enhancing communication with citizens, telling Harnett County’s story throughout the region, and managing growth in a fiscally responsible and sustainable way that preserves the past while embracing the opportunities that come with that growth.
Stewart grew up in Lillington and currently resides in Angier. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a Certified Government Chief Information Officer with the UNC School of Government.
Prior to her employment with Harnett County, she worked at N.C. State University for nine years as a budget analyst and applications analyst. She is the daughter of the late Donald D. Kelly and Judy Kelly of Lillington. She and her husband, Del, have been married for 29 years and have two daughters – Kelly and Natalie.
Stewart is one of more than 1,300 local government management professional currently credentialed through ICMA’s Voluntary Credentialing Program.
ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, advances professional local government worldwide. The organization’s mission is to advance professional local government through leadership, management, innovation, and ethics.
ICMA identifies leading practices to address the needs of local governments and professionals serving communities globally. The Association provides services, research, publications, data and information, peer and results-oriented assistance, and training and professional development to thousands of city, town, and county leaders and other individuals and organizations throughout the world. The management decisions made by ICMA's members affect millions of people living in thousands of communities, ranging in size from small towns to large metropolitan areas.