Jillian C. Barrick is the first female business administrator of Morristown, New Jersey.


Jillian C. Barrick is the first female business administrator of Morristown, New Jersey. She was also the first female business administrator of East Orange, New Jersey.

Nick Romanenko

A few weeks into Jillian C. Barrick’s job as the first female business administrator in the Newark suburb of East Orange, New Jersey, she found herself facing off against an angry subordinate. He called her “baby.” It didn’t go over well.

“After that conversation, from that point on, he called me ‘Miss Barrick,’” recalls Barrick SPAA’14. “I simply reminded him who he was speaking to.”

In the overwhelmingly male-dominated world of city and county management—about 80 percent male, according to the International City/County Management Association—Barrick has blazed a trail not only in East Orange, but also in Morristown, where she recently became the town’s first female business administrator. It’s an important job—Barrick builds budgets, negotiates labor contracts, and helps the mayor draft policy—and much of it is accomplished behind the scenes.

“A lot of things I do are not sexy,” she says. “I make sure that there’s enough money to shovel the snow and patch potholes and pick up the garbage.”

Barrick stumbled into public administration: disillusioned with her college major, architecture, she switched to city planning and eventually to city administration. In East Orange, she inherited a budget deficit but succeeded in improving the city’s credit rating and building a surplus. “Restoring fiscal health is something I’m really proud of,” she says. “Making sure there are enough resources to provide government services is really important.”

Each day, Barrick must navigate stakeholders’ competing demands in an array of complex realms: finance, human resources, redevelopment, and policy. “There’s never really a dull moment, and you use a lot of different parts of your brain all at the same time,” Barrick says.

Along the way, she’s sat across the negotiating table from men inclined to patronize her. It can be frustrating, she says, but sometimes it’s useful. “They underestimate me, they don’t see what I’m doing, and it gives me a little leverage.”

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