MUSKOKA — The District of Muskoka has finally gotten with the times, hiring its first female chief administrative officer.

Julie Stevens has broken through the Pine Street glass ceiling by taking over from Michael Duben, who resigned in June to assume the same job in Oxford County after seven years. He left two weeks ago after seven years.

Samantha Hasting, commissioner of community services and planning, has been the interim CAO since his departure.

Stevens’ hire sees the district stay in-house with the promotion of their commissioner of finance and corporate services the past seven years.

Before that she was director of finance at the district, after being hired in 2011; and then adding corporate services in 2013.

Previously she was treasurer at Muskoka Lakes Township from 2008 to 2011.

Stevens, who grew up in Huntsville, beat out more than 40 other candidates from across Canada in a national search led by international head-hunters Odgers Berndston, says a release Sept. 22.

She is a past president of the Municipal Finance Officers Association (MFOA) and ONE Investment Board, a group of a about a half dozen municipalities, including Muskoka, that invests tax dollars in return for profits to re-invest in the community.

According to her district profile, Stevens is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) with a Bachelor of Commerce Honours from Queen’s University.

Today’s release says “she has served as a senior executive, mentor and coach throughout her career.”

In the private sector she was controller for Cequent Towing Products of Canada, formerly Hidden Hitch; CFO at Algonquin Scientific; a senior manager at TD Canada Trust; and an Ernst Young manager.

Stevens grew up in Huntsville and worked in Toronto after graduating university in Kingston, before returning to Hunsville in 2002.

District chair John Klinck said “council is very pleased to have Julie lead our exceptional staff team, especially as we navigate the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 and work to support our communities as we recover together from this global pandemic.

“We believe Ms. Stevens possesses that unique combination of skills and abilities that will allow her to continue the great tradition of exceptional leadership at the District of Muskoka.”

Added Stevens: “It is a complex and unique time to serve the District of Muskoka. I look forward to working closely with District council, staff and partner area municipalities to do all that we can together to help Muskoka’s communities not only recover, but to also thrive during these challenging times.”

Julie Stevens’ ascension has taken her from the private finance sector to the public sector, where she has risen from treasurer at Muskoka Lakes Township to District of Muskoka director of finance and now as its top bureaucrat as incoming CAO.