By ARDEN BASTIA It's Tuesday, January 5; inauguration day at City Hall, and Susan Nahabedian Ayrassian, Esq. is already fielding constituent calls. Technically, her first day on the job is Wednesday, but no better time than the present to start her new
It’s Tuesday, January 5; inauguration day at City Hall, and Susan Nahabedian Ayrassian, Esq. is already fielding constituent calls. Technically, her first day on the job is Wednesday, but no better time than the present to start her new role as Chief of Staff for Mayor Frank Picozzi.
“I’m not going to avoid calls. I’m here to answer them,” she said in an interview.
Even though the day was one of celebration, Ayrassian planned on putting in a full day’s work.
“I’m just really excited to be in Warwick,” she said in an interview. “I think it’s a great opportunity to seek to learn more about the city and work with this mayor who has some great ideas.”
“After several interviews I have become very confident that Susan is a person that I can heavily rely on to help me achieve my goals and visions for the residents of Warwick. She has an outstanding combination of education, experience, and interpersonal skills,” Mayor Picozzi said of his choice for the job.
Ayrassian is a lifelong resident of Cranston and previously worked at Cranston City Hall as Personnel Director. She also served as the Chairperson of the Cranston Diversity Commission. Her time in Cranston City Hall focused largely on budget and contract negotiations. Before COVID, Ayrassian worked with a larger team, but by the time she left, there was one full time person. “Which was myself,” she said with a laugh. “So small staff in general but we got to the work that needed to get done.”
Her biggest personal challenge in her new role is “getting to know the different departments and to know the personnel.” Ayrassian has wasted no time requesting a list of the departments, offices, and staff within the city.
“I wish we had the opportunity to go out physically and meet people, but because of COVID, you’re so restricted. So ideally, I’d like to be getting in my car today and go into different departments and go to the senior center to meet those folks and go to parks and rec, go to the highway division and meet some of those guys,” she said. “Initially, I just want to get out there and meet people and learn about the departments, then try to juggle some of the time sensitive things that need to be addressed right away.”
She recalled back to her time in Cranston, where she said she left the door to her office open almost everyday where constituents and coworkers alike would stop by. “I am very much a people person, and I like meeting and interacting with people.”
Ayrassian has a background as an attorney, getting her degrees from the University of Rhode Island and New England School of Law, but didn’t practice much, as she spent a lot of her time raising her three college-aged children: one son graduated from URI, another son graduated from New England Tech, and a daughter who is a junior at URI. Ayrassian is also an adjunct faculty lecturer at Salve Regina University where she teaches in the Business Studies and Economics department. She recently divorced after 26 years of marriage, and is now ready to devote herself to her new job.
“The legal background is definitely a huge asset with respect to a lot of functions of personnel director, because there’s a lot of labor laws involved,” she explained. “Because of my legal background, I do understand a lot of the terminology and the contractual provisions.”
Ayrassian is looking forward to tackling the priorities of the city, from both a “fiscal perspective and personnel perspective.” There’s a lot that needs to be addressed. It will be different. There will be a lot of different people.”