For the first time in almost 20 years, the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency is undergoing a change in leadership.
Former East Greenwich Town Manager William Sequino Jr. will take over as executive director of the agency effective July 8, following the retirement of Anthony Simeone after 19 years in the role.
During Simeone’s tenure, the agency earned and maintained a top-tier credit rating and used it to help secure more than $1.5 billion in financing for water-treatment and drinking-water projects.
Citing the success of the agency and its lean structure – it has just six employees – lawmakers have approved expanding the agency’s role to include financing for municipal road and bridge projects.
PBN: How did you first come to the agency?
SIMEONE: I saw the job in the newspaper and because I had been on the Smithfield Town Council and was town administrator and had experience with bonds, it gave me the opportunity to say, “I think I can do this.” There were something like 125 applicants and I was a little surprised that I made the cut in the end. I remember one of the interviewers asked me what strengths I could bring to the agency and my answer was I know what my weaknesses are. I know enough when to call for help. It must have been the right answer.
PBN: During your tenure the agency grew from assets of $102 million to $1.3 billion. What’s behind that growth?
SIMEONE: When I got the job 19 years ago, there was just an administrative assistant, a part-time accountant and me. The board said to me, “Build a staff, do what you need to do to make this a credible agency.” … I kept my nose to the grindstone, worked hard, ate my lunch at my desk every day, as does everyone else here. I was given an opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it by demonstrating that an agency could come from an unknown to an agency that is well known and respected throughout the state and nationally.