Teaneck's Acting Manager is Moving Up

By Adam Lisberg, Staff Writer

The Record, May 24, 2001, P. L3

Bergen County's second-largest community is handing the reins to its first female manager.

The council Tuesday night named Helene Fall township manager, effective June 1. Fall spent two years being groomed for the position as deputy to Gary Saage; for the past five months, she has served as acting manager while Saage uses up his vacation time.

"Teaneck is definitely a dream come true for me," Fall said Wednesday. "Teaneck represents the best of what municipal government can be."

Fall said while female managers are few and far between in New Jersey municipal government, she doesn't see her appointment as any sort of breakthrough for women.

"I don't feel like I'm breaking a barrier," she said. "I just feel like I'm capable of doing a lot for this community."

The council did not consider other candidates for the job because employees, council members, and community leaders all said they were impressed with Fall's performance since she joined Teaneck in November 1998, Mayor Paul Ostrow said.

"The council over the last year has been watching Helene very carefully," Ostrow said. "She is a tremendously hardworking, highly motivated, highly principled woman."

Fall, 40, was born and raised in Hackensack. She graduated from Douglass College in New Brunswick in 1982 with a double major in political science and Italian literature, then earned a master's degree in public administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Fall first worked in Teaneck from 1985 to 1989 as an assistant to Werner Schmid, township manager for 29 years.

She left Teaneck soon after Schmid retired, serving as an administrator in the Somerset County community of Bernards Township and then in Montvale.

"It's a strange feeling for me," she said. "When I started my career over 16 years ago ... there was always a small hope in me that I would have the opportunity to come back to Teaneck."

Fall, who will be paid $121,000 annually, lives on Monterey Avenue in Teaneck with her husband, Fred, whom she met during her first stint working in Teaneck, when he was a lieutenant in the Fire Department. She has two grown stepchildren.

"Teaneck is not a steppingstone for me," she said. "Teaneck is where I really want to be for the rest of my career."