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What did the new city manager do at the National Security Agency?


The newly named city manager apparently has not gathered intelligence or tried to break codes for the National Security Agency; she’s been a techie who’s managed computer operations for the federal organization in charge of out-of-country eavesdropping.

Sharon A. Addison, who was named the new Watertown city manager Saturday, has been special source operations manager for the NSA since 2006. She’s been in charge of managing intelligence operations, program management and business process improvement for the NSA, according to her resume.

During a press conference Saturday, Ms. Addison, 49, of Severn, Md., said she has worked at the NSA for 27 years but was unable to provide much background because of the sensitive material she has been involved in with the agency.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said the city’s new CEO worked her way up from a computer technician/analyst through the ranks of management.

“That’s my read on it,” he said. “That appears to be her career path.”

The 1-page resume — submitted to the City Council when she applied for the job in April — is full of military and national security terminology and acronyms.

In her current position, she’s been responsible for “strategic direction and daily leadership of a multimillion-dollar budget and a large operations team.” In that position, she has been involved in “planning, policies, workflow prioritization, program supervision and oversight for several high-profile, agency-level intelligence collection and operations programs serving the requirements of the intelligence community.”

In her cover letter, Ms. Addison, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, acknowledged she was looking to make a big career change when she heard about the city manager opening.

“To be frank, I have achieved and exceeded my initial career goals in federal service,” she wrote. “I am now at a stage in my life and career where I have a strong desire to continue public service, but to do so in a way that enables me to make a closer and more integral contribution to the community I serve.”

She wrote that her NSA position requires a high level of technological expertise and strong leadership skills “in what is often a highly charged political environment.”

Last week, City Council members said they were impressed with Ms. Addison’s management experience, credentials and computer skills, even though she has no municipal experience. Ms. Addison starts her new job, which will pay a salary of $120,000, on July 16.

Over the years, she moved up the ranks to a management position, with a salary of $79,000 that increased to $144,000 over the past 10 years, according to her cover letter. She will retire from the NSA on July 13.

From 1985 to 1999, she held various technical positions in project analysis, collection and reporting, including an overseas assignment. She also improved the efficiency of software engineering and business processes before becoming a deputy chief for special support activity at the agency’s operation center in 2003.

She also managed and directed signals intelligence programs that glean information from intercepting electronic signals and systems used by U.S. adversaries for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That information is provided to the military and departments within the executive branch. She also developed computer software programs to prevent hacking, according to her resume.

Her cover letter also mentions she already has “taken steps to re-establish my roots in the upstate area of New York that I love.”

A 1985 graduate of SUNY Potsdam, she has degrees in math and computer science. She grew up in Schenectady and has owned property on Reed’s Point Road in Fishers Landing along the St. Lawrence River for about 10 years. She purchased the 0.229 of an acre for $134,000, according to Jefferson County property records.

Her sister, Laura L. Lamon, teaches at Guardino Elementary School in Clayton.

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