Person of the Week
Michelle Benivegna Is Honored to Work for East Haven
Michelle Benivegna is the assistant director of administration and management for the Town of East Haven. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Benivegna )
It has been nearly a year since Michelle Benivegna took over the roles of assistant director of administration and management and director of human resources for the Town of East Haven. Despite the many challenges faced in 2020, she is enjoying her first job in a municipality.
“I get to talk to residents every day and hear their praises or concerns or respond to their questions,” says Michelle. “I’m truly blessed I am in this role.”
As the assistant director of administration and management, Michelle takes part in all aspects of the town’s activities, such as the Fall Festival, the farmers’ market, summer concert series, emergency preparedness, the daily operations of the town, and working with the residents, hearing their concerns, assisting them having problems solved and answering their questions.
Michelle had only just begun to get settled into her role when COVID hit. She and the administration worked to make sure the town was compliant in safety protocols. She is proud that East Haven is one of the few towns in the state that successfully held events over the summer, including summer concerts and the farmers’ market, which moved to the Town Green.
In addition, Michelle also serves as the town’s human resources director. In this role, she works with the town’s legal team to assure the town is meeting state and federal mandates, providing the required trainings to the employees, bringing “very outdated policies and procedures such as the employee handbook current,” dealing with employee issues, and working with the unions in town.
Michelle says this is the happiest she’s ever been with a job and she has had experience in several fields. She always wanted to be a teacher, but she was also intrigued by her grandfather’s job as a federal judge. After graduating from Sacred Heart Academy, Michelle chose to major in sociology at Albertus Magnus College.
“Sociology was the ideal major to choose since it would help me as a teacher to understand the challenges and diversity my students and their families experience,” says Michelle. “It also provided me another avenue to work with children and their families if I decided to not to become a teacher but a social worker.”
After graduating, Michelle taught at private schools. As she gained experience, she was drawn toward administration and took courses in administration management and human resources. She moved on from private schools to working at Yale School of Medicine and then as a grant manager for Head Start.
Michelle worked in the non-profit sector for 20 years before making a career change. She earned her stock broker license and took a job with Morgan Stanley.
“Being and working with children and families since 1998 was a lot and there were a lot of challenges,” says Michelle. “I wanted to try something different.”
In 2019, Michelle was approached to run for Town Council to represent District 4. She spent the spring and summer campaigning and, though she lost, she learned a lot from the process and made many connections in town.
“I learned a great deal about the town I was born and raised in,” says Michelle. “I met amazing people of East Haven who volunteer their time to help their neighbors, I heard endless stories about the struggles many face daily, and countless ideas were shared with me about what can be done differently and improved in East Haven.”
Though Michelle lost the election, along the way, she met Joe Carfora, who won his bid for mayor. When Carfora took over, he and Michelle spoke about the position, which is a position appointed by the mayor.
“Joe had seen abilities and skills in communication, along with my experience,” says Michelle. “When he was looking to fill positions, he realized I could be the perfect person for the job. I brought HR skills, people skills, and the ability to listen to people and hear their concerns. It was a good fit and it was an opportunity for me to help residents.”
When Michelle isn’t at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, David, and their 14-year-old son. She is “blessed” to live by the water and loves spending time at the beach.
Michelle remembers the times when she was little that she went to her grandfather’s offices when he was the town counsel for East Haven. She is proud to also serve the town, particularly as the first woman to hold this role.
“My grandfather always instilled in me to be fair and listen to all sides and to have this opportunity, I feel I’m making him proud and continuing his legacy,” says Michelle. “Working with Mayor Carfora and being a respected woman in this administration says a lot. There’s never been a woman in this role. It’s a big deal and I’m proud to be that person.”
Michelle stresses that the administration for the Town of East Haven works as a team with a goal of taking pride in the town and its grounds and working to make East Haven fiscally sound.
“We have some work to do but we’re on a good track and we’re a solid team,” says Michelle. “Every day I come to work, my day is different and presents challenges good and bad, but I’m honored to be able to work side by side with the mayor every day and hear the residents’ challenges and help them problem solve.”
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .