Town official Q&A with Richmond Town Administrator Karen Pinch

Town official Q&A with Richmond Town Administrator Karen Pinch

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Where did you work before you came to Richmond?

“Prior to coming to Richmond, I spent 23 years with the Rhode Island State Police rising through the ranks from trooper to lieutenant colonel (#3). I had many assignments during my tenure, including at least one tour at each of the five barracks, staff at the Training Academy, the Traffic, Planning and Research Unit, officer-in-charge of technology and communications, and several Command Staff positions. I retired in April 2015 and immediately came to Richmond.”

What did you enjoy about serving on the RISP, particularly the command staff?  

“I was fortunate to be able to experience many different assignments while on the state police. One of my favorite assignments was being on the Training Academy staff. I was assigned to the academy for three 20- to 24-week classes (varied depending on the year) that took place in 1994, 1997 and 2005. I really enjoyed being there on the “ground floor” of their training and participating in shaping them into what we felt successful troopers should be. Another of my assignments was in the Traffic, Planning and Research Unit. While there, I became a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. I loved being involved in traffic safety, and especially in keeping children safe in their car seats and in seat belts. We would frequently hold safety events and teach parents how to keep their kids safe and secure in the car. This was especially fulfilling because parents were so appreciative of our work. I became an instructor in the course and maintained that certification for 10 years. With regard to the Command Staff, I especially enjoyed my time as the major of administrative services because I was able to oversee both the Training Academy and the Traffic, Planning and Research Unit, so I was able to relive some of my favorite assignments while coming up through the ranks.”

What prompted you to apply for the town administrator's position?  

“When I was on the state police, we had a 25-year mandatory retirement. At that time, I had 23 years on the job and still felt young enough to start a second career. I had already decided that I was interested in being a town administrator when the Richmond position opened. I felt that my skills and abilities matched well with the job posting and decided to apply. It was the right size town at the right time in my life.”

What have you found most rewarding about this job?

“The people who work here are the town’s greatest asset.  We have a good group of people who are very dedicated to their jobs.  We frequently get comments about how helpful and friendly our people are; that makes my job much easier.”

What have been your biggest challenges in Richmond?

“The biggest challenge is getting done what needs to be done on a very small budget. The employees are typically some of the lowest paid in the state, which creates turnover and therefore loss of continuity and institutional knowledge. We become a training ground for other municipalities. I hope to remedy that in the next budget cycle if it can be done within reason.”

What do you do when you're not working?

“I enjoy running, biking, and just generally staying in shape.  My family likes to ski, although schedules haven’t allowed us to do as much the last couple of years. Mostly my husband and I like to spend time with our kids, either watching our daughter run track and cross country, or visiting our son at college.”

Is there something about you that most people don't know?

“When I was with the state police, I competed in the LawFit Trooper Challenge and won the female category all three times. In fact, the number of points I achieved actually beat all of the men.  The LawFit Challenge consists of a series of six fitness- and job-related competitive events, including one-repetition maximum bench press based on percentage of body weight lifted, one-minute timed sit-up test, sit-and-reach flexibility test, maximum pull-up test, 200-yard agility course, and 1.5-mile run.”

More about Karen

Born: Providence

Education: Jamestown School; North Kingstown High School; graduated from Brown University with a double major in psychology and organizational behavior and management; B.S. in criminal justice from Roger Williams University.

Family: Husband Steve Pinch, director of guidance at Narragansett High School and fire chief of the Union Fire District of South Kingstown; daughter, 18, and son, 21.

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