Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)

Posted on Dec. 4, 2023

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Position Details:

Employer: County of Northern Lights

Location: Manning, AB

Industry: Municipal Government

Position Outline:


The County of Northern Lights’ municipal office is located in the Town of Manning, Alberta, and is 250 kms north of the City of Grande Prairie, and 100 kms north of the Town of Peace River.  The County boasts a vast region in northwest Alberta featuring such diversity as agriculture, oil and gas, tourism, and forestry.  The County lies in the center of the Mighty Peace Country and is home to dense boreal forest, majestic rivers, abundant wildlife, and secluded lakes.  The region offers a unique habitat for those individuals/families seeking a balance of work and lifestyle in an open natural environment away from the hectic pace of urban living.  There is no shortage of four-season leisure pursuits including hiking, golfing, camping, wildlife watching, fishing, hunting, skiing, and snowmobiling throughout the County’s vast recreation areas.

The County of Northern Lights is served by a Council of seven members who are renowned for their ability to work as a team. 

For additional information, please visit our website at


Business - County Of northernlights


Reports to:                       Reeve, Deputy Reeve, and Five Councillors (Seven Total Council Members)

Direct Reports:                Director of Finance, Director of Public Works, Agricultural Fieldman, Executive Assistant, Planning & Development Contractor

Total Staff:                        35+ FTE’s

Budget:                             Operating – approximately $26M

                                           Capital – approximately $8M

                                           Total – approximately $34M

Reason for Opening:     The current CAO is retiring after 20+ years as the head of Administration




The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is the administrative head of the municipality, and provides effective support and advice to the elected Reeve and Council within the framework of interprovincial legislation governing the County of Northern Lights.  In addition to the responsibilities as laid out in the CAO Bylaw No. 23-12-478, the Municipal Government Act (MGA), and other relevant bylaws and statutes, the successful incumbent will provide strategic direction and leadership to all employees of the County, and will be instrumental in developing, implementing, and executing policies, strategies, and objectives (as approved by the Council) to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Municipality.  Vital to this role is the ongoing open communication and effective relationships between the Council, administration, neighbouring municipalities, the Province, local businesses, potential investors, ratepayers, and the general public.  The CAO also serves as the Director of Emergency Management.

In addition, the CAO will provide:

  • Leadership, management, coaching, and mentorship to all staff.
  • Well-researched and objective advice, guidance, and support to the Reeve and Council.
  • In conjunction with the Director of Finance, solid financial management.
  • Customer service/public relations - ensure that all employees remain committed to a high level of public and customer service (both internally and externally).
  • Open and transparent communication between the Council, staff, and the general public.
  • Strategic planning support.
  • Resource management (human resources and physical assets).
  • Economic development support, meaning constantly promoting an “open for business” mindset.
  • Policy and procedure administration – ensure that policies, procedures, bylaws, and other municipal guiding documents are current and reflective of the mandate of Council.
  • Other duties as required, such as ensuring that workplace health and safety remains a top priority.



The CAO will possess a progressive leadership record demonstrating positive relationships with key stakeholders, elected officials, staff, and the general public.  The successful candidate will feel equally comfortable as a senior leader, as well as a “hands-on” team participant.  Among other attributes, the following competencies and behaviours are vital.

  • Leadership – Serve as a willing mentor and positive role model, combined with a practical and common-sense approach, while building high performing teams.  Appreciative, engaging, understanding, and knowledgeable of both rural and urban issues and challenges.  Can identify opportunities, inspire action, and achieves results.  Committed to personal growth and development, and promotes the same among employees and others.  A high degree of personal initiative, ability to prioritize tasks, work in high pressure and challenging situations, meet tight deadlines, keen sense for accuracy and attention to detail, and work both as part of a team as well as independently.           
  • Management – Personal and professional stability.  Invested in promoting the same for the organization through professional development opportunities, coaching and mentoring staff, with the goal of succession planning.  A welcoming and calming demeanor, coupled with effective conflict management skills.    
  • Professional Demeanour – Unimpeachable integrity, ethical, and moral standards, confidentiality and personal integrity, trustworthy, honest, and willing to follow the County’s Code of Conduct.  The capacity to maintain confidentiality and deal with highly sensitive information.  
  • Political Astuteness – Prepared to guide and mentor Council with solid and informed recommendations.  Politically savvy with the ability to know and understand legislative and regulatory processes coupled with the intuition to read the political implications of recommendations and actions.       
  • Communication – Excellent clear and concise communication (both written and verbal), interpersonal, and public relations skills.  An open, honest, and straightforward style with all audiences, while demonstrating candor and respect.  Keeps Council fully informed at all times. 
  • Interpersonal Skills – Able to effectively build relationships with a wide range of stakeholders (internally and externally).  Patient and resilient while embracing challenges and accepting the reality of obstacles.  Flexible and adaptable – able to work comfortably with individuals, teams, and committees of varying backgrounds and sizes.  Possesses a positive outlook and a sense of humor.  Diplomatic in your approach and emotionally mature. 
  • Integrity & Trust – Honest, sincere, dependable, authentic, and trustworthy.  Committed to the County’s values, vision, and mission…and acts as a positive role model.  Exhibits stamina, presence, and energy. 
  • Customer Service – Promotes and practices a high level of customer service, ensuring that the customer needs are identified and addressed in a professional and timely manner. Possesses well-developed negotiation skills with the ability to facilitate productive negotiations with tact and diplomacy.   
  • Financial Management – A proven ability to work in a fiscal environment of growth, and lead with a strong sense of service.  In concert with the Director of Finance, ensure timely and efficient budgeting practices, as well as accurate financial reporting. 
  • Strategic & Business Planning – Provides executive leadership to all corporate initiatives, and ensures accountability for achievement of results throughout the Municipality.  A commitment to ongoing strong regional working relationships, and the willingness to always positively promote and support the County of Northern Lights, as well as the overall region.  The ability to interpret bylaws, legislation, and policies as required.  Previous experience applying for, and managing grants and funding opportunities.  The ability to research and implement best practices, policies, and procedures.  Willing to build consensus, lead change, and think creatively - innovative and open to consider alternative approaches.  
  • Volunteer Service – Being actively involved in the community, as well as a thirst and interest in growing the County through economic development and other long-term sustainable initiatives.
  • Self-Confidence – Self-confidence and effective assertiveness with decision making.  Able to make difficult decisions in a timely manner, and the commitment to stand by those decisions.  Constant drive towards personal and organizational excellence.



The successful candidate will possess the following, or an acceptable combination focused on senior administrative leadership:

  • A post-secondary degree or diploma in Public Administration, Business Administration, Commerce, or Planning and/or significant and relevant direct involvement in senior management, coupled with executive leadership experience in a dynamic organization within a municipal environment.
  • An understanding of, and appreciation for, good governance.
  • Solid fiscal management experience and expertise, especially around planning and budgeting.  The ability to convey financial information in a manner that can be clearly understood by others.
  • A proven record of working effectively with elected officials, local government staff, community volunteers, boards and committees, and public participation processes.
  • Working knowledge of the MGA and other relevant municipal legislation, as well…a CLGM designation would be an asset.
  • Willingness to work in a union environment (AUPE - Alberta Union of Provincial Employees).

County of Northern Lights - Mighty Peace Tourism               County of Northern Lights - Mighty Peace Tourism


A competitive compensation package will be provided to the successful candidate.  This includes an attractive and competitive base salary (current band is $156,185 to $181,060), a solid overall benefits package, enrollment in LAPP (Local Authorities Pension Plan), and on-going Professional Development support.  Details will be discussed in further conversations.



James Davies  

Managing Director

DCG Executive Search Services Ltd.

(780) 758-9796

[email protected]

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