Finance has a new face in Forsyth.
David Gruen has been on the job as the county’s first director of finance/controller for about three weeks.
The position was created in 2009, but Gruen is the first to fill it.
Gruen returns to local government after 10 years as vice president for finance at Toccoa Falls College.
“I just enjoy working with people, and with this kind of environment and my financial background, this is a setting where I can do both of those,” he said.
Prior to moving to Toccoa Falls, Gruen spent 20 years in financial and budget positions in Charlotte County, Fla., ultimately becoming the county’s budget officer.
He began his career in finance by handwriting $25 receipts for ambulance bills there.
“I really worked my way up and enjoyed my work,” he said.
In looking at the Forsyth position, Gruen said he hopes to continue to provide strong financial backing so the local government can provide services to the community.
“As long as we keep doing that well, that meets my goals,” he said. “In the financial end of local government, the big word is ‘accountability.’ I was able to to do that in Charlotte County and I bring that to this job.”
County Manager Doug Derrer, who hired Gruen and oversees the position, said his application for the job “stood out in many ways.”
“His management experience in both government and the private sector, coupled with his background in teaching made him the most qualified candidate,” Derrer said.
“Since his arrival it’s apparent that he has the requisite knowledge, personality and experience to step into the role and lead with confidence.”
In this position, Gruen will direct operations of the finance department and several other areas, including purchasing and risk management.
He will also oversee financial programs and activities and provide financial leadership to department directors.
Derrer said Gruen has spent much of his first few weeks meeting with staff and establishing the relationships necessary for success.
The county’s former chief financial officer, Bill Thomas, resigned on April 2, and the county manager and deputy county manager absorbed those duties.
The chief financial officer post is vacant, though still an existing classification, county spokeswoman Jodi Gardner said.
Gruen said he applied for the director of finance/controller position as an opportunity for a change, as well as the “rewarding” experiences working in local government can provide.
Living in Toccoa Falls, he said, also gives him the ability to commute until he and his wife, Pam, relocate to Forsyth County, something he’s looking forward to.
“I like the things that are here,” Gruen said. “It’s a great quality of life.”
Currently a member of First Alliance Church in Toccoa Falls, Gruen plans to get involved with a local church. Some of his hobbies include history, visiting natural parks and collecting lighthouses.
“The one I kind of smile at because it’s related to finance — I like coin collecting,” he said. “I’m a numismatist.”
Gruen and his wife have two grown children, a son and daughter, and one grandson.