Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale talk with resident John Pitkin at Jan. 16, 2019, protest at City Hall. (Photo: Charlie Teague)

The city’s deputy manager, Lisa Peterson, has quietly retired, the City Manager’s Office acknowledged Monday.

Though word began circulating in September that Peterson had announced her intention to leave, the departure has been so quiet – accompanied by no press release or City Council resolution – that a call placed purposefully to Peterson’s office in City Hall on Monday was put through pointlessly and deceptively to an empty office’s voicemail. After a call back to the city managers’ receptionist and a direct question, the news was reluctantly confirmed.

“She isn’t in the office, but if you just leave her voicemail, it’ll go to her,” had been the initial response. Immediately afterward, asked if Peterson still worked for the city, the answer was: “Yes, she’s – No, she’s technically retired now.” Then: “Yes, she’s retired.”

Peterson’s retirement – confirmed by her LinkedIn page – reportedly became effective Friday. She was on a three-year contract cycle, signing in 2013, 2016 and most recently on July 5, 2019. That contract ran through June 30, 2022, which means she opted to leave around a year and five months early.

She began her 2019 contract at $267,716 and had been due a $5,000 increase effective June 30, assuming she was doing her job adequately. The salary in the 2019 contract reflects an 18.5 percent raise from the previous starting rate of $226,000, which was a 13.3 percent raise from the starting $199,500 rate of her 2013 contract. Peterson was obliged by the latest document only to give at least three months’ notice before leaving. She was keeping a low profile even before the coronavirus pandemic largely shut down civic life.

Her notice may have come only shortly before the City Council approved a contract extension for City Manager Louis A. DePasquale under muddled, bizarrely urgent conditions. Although there were councillors at the time who acknowledged hearing that Peterson had given notice, that wasn’t noted publicly during debate over DePasquale’s contract.

Peterson’s LinkedIn page, viewed Monday, confirms her retirement.

Peterson began work for the city with 11 years in the City Manager’s Office; she became a Public Works commissioner in 2011 and after a dozen years, was promoted to deputy city manager. The role has special oversight of the city’s capital projects, and Peterson also served briefly as acting city manager, from Oct. 1, 2016, to Nov. 14, 2016, until DePasquale first assumed the office under contract.

It’s unclear what plans are in place to replace Peterson; the deputy city manager position is not listed alongside other available municipal positions online.

A message was left Monday with the City Manager’s Office seeking more information. Questions left earlier with the city’s Personnel Office weren’t immediately answered.

Questions about Peterson’s retirement were also left four months ago with Lee Gianetti, director of communications and community relations, but he never responded.

The city’s 2019 Brian Murphy Award was given to Peterson; a press release gave more information about her role in city government:

Lisa has served as deputy city manager since 2013 and during that time has focused on initiatives to cultivate a workplace environment that reflects the values of equity and inclusion. She serves as the chair of the Community Benefits Advisory Committee, which is currently awarding grants to nonprofit collaborations seeking to address the city’s most pressing needs, namely housing instability, financial instability and mental and behavior health. She is the chair of the Community Preservation Act Committee, which has allocated millions of dollars for affordable housing, historical preservation and open space projects in the city. As the chair of these committees, Lisa has worked hard to bring new voices to the table, to identify ways to support the most vulnerable populations in our community and to create an open and inclusive process around decision making. Both as commissioner of Public Works and as deputy city manager, Lisa has shown an unwavering commitment to ensuring the city is delivering high-quality services and is responsive to the needs and concerns of our residents.

As deputy city manager, Lisa also oversees all the city’s major public construction projects. This work involves a lot of meaningful and spirited community dialogue, and Lisa has done a fantastic job listening to the community and managing our projects. In fact, while construction is still underway for $160 million King Open and Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex that will open this fall, Lisa has already started the process for the $250 million Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane school project. While many people work on these projects, Lisa’s leadership is key to their success.

These examples represent only a small part of the contributions that Lisa has made to the city.