Mary Neilan

Organizational Development, Finance and Human Resources

Mary Neilan has served local governments for more than 25 years, including executive leadership positions in the cities of Novato, St. Helena, Vallejo and Belvedere. She has experience overseeing nearly every facet of local government operations with a particular emphasis on budget and financial & project management, organizational development, and HR. As a seasoned City Manager, Mary excels at problem solving through analysis of work distribution and resource allocation, measured against organizational goals and priorities. Ensuring employees are valued, challenged and supported is foundational to Mary’s approach to organizational excellence.

During her career, Mary has successfully coordinated projects and programs, presented complex technical information and policy options, and implemented new operational policies to improve organizational efficiency. Mary has led cities during economic downturns, addressing budget deficits through organizational restructuring, debt refinancing, targeted revenue enhancement and successful concession bargaining. In addition, Mary partnered with neighboring jurisdictions to coordinate operations, eliminate redundancy and reduce expense without jeopardizing service levels.

Additional projects and achievements of note include:

  • Implementation of the Base Reuse Plan for the former Hamilton Air Force Base in Novato including negotiating final terms of transfer and cleanup for several challenging properties, implementing affordable housing programs to serve a broad spectrum of residents, and working with multiple state and federal agencies to mitigate the impacts of a large, regional wetlands restoration project.
  • Oversight of a $30M comprehensive Flood Protection Project in the Napa River to protect 300 homes in St. Helena, restore fish habitat and provide safe pedestrian access to riverfront
  • Negotiating with Army Corp of Engineers to implement federal legislation approving $19M in federal reimbursement for St. Helena Flood Protection Project
  • Reversed a seven-year trend of deficit spending in Belvedere; reduced operating expense and restored reserves to required level; reduced the City’s unfunded pension liability
  • Secured significant grant funding in Belvedere to address flood protection improvements and the impacts of climate change

In recent years, Mary has consulted with local governments on projects involving organizational reviews, facilitations and training, process improvements, strategic planning and executive coaching.

Mary earned a BA in Business Management and a Masters in Public Administration from Sonoma State University, is a graduate of the Berkeley Executive Seminar, School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley, and is a Certified Life Coach. As board member and president of her local Boys and Girls Club, Mary led the organization through completion of a $5M facility and grew its membership from several hundred children to several thousand.


Listen to what others have to say about working with Mary.

“Thanks for all your help. It was a pleasure to work with such talented professionals.”

Arleen O'Donnell