Sara Lenehan, City of Little Rock (Education/Public Sector Finalist)

Sara Lenehan, City of Little Rock (Education/Public Sector Finalist)
Sara Lenehan

Sara Lenehan loves her job as finance director for the city of Little Rock because of its diversity and challenges.

“Accounting and finance is a field that enables you to work with all aspects of an organization,” said Lenehan, who first joined the city as comptroller in 2004 and became finance director in 2008.

“The diversity of programs, projects and people that I am able to work with on a daily basis make working for the city very challenging and exciting,” she said. The issues she deals with range from public safety and zoo operations to pension funding, city infrastructure, debt issuance and compliance, grant management, and golf and landfill regulations.

Lenehan, 57, serves as the representative of the state of Arkansas to the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States & Canada. She was appointed by the governor to the Arkansas Fire & Police Pension Review Board and also serves on the Rock Region Metro board of directors.

Working for the city, which employs about 2,600 full- and part-time employees, has been gratifying, Lenehan said. She is proudest of helping the city maintain a balanced budget during the recent economic downturn and maintain an AAA bond rating.

Another highlight, she said, was in 2011 when the voters approved a 5/8-cent increase in the sales tax to fund city operations, including hiring employees and increasing salaries, and a 3/8-cent sales tax increase for the next 10 years to cover construction, emergency vehicles and new technology.

Integrity and transparency, she said, are priorities for her. “I like to operate in the environment of no surprises. Obviously, in this role the news to report isn’t always good news, but I think that it is really important that it be as transparent and honest as it can be so that people are not surprised or don’t mistrust the information that is provided.”