Mayor Carter Announces Directors for Department of Public Works, Saint Paul Office of Financial Services, and Executive Project Lead for Redevelopment

June 24, 2020

Peter Leggett  

SAINT PAUL, MN - Today, Mayor Melvin Carter announced Directors for the Saint Paul Office of Financial Services, and the Department of Public Works, along with the Executive Project Lead for Redevelopment. Sean Kershaw will serve as Director for the Department of Public Works. John McCarthy will serve as Director for Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Services. Melanie McMahon will assume the role of Executive Project Lead for Redevelopment. 

“Sean Kershaw’s career demonstrates a longstanding commitment to supporting prosperity for everyone in our community,” said Mayor Carter. “His strong background in economic development, engagement, and equity will ensure we continue making vital infrastructure investments for our residents and businesses.”

"I'm excited to be part of an incredible team,” said Sean Kershaw. “The future of Public Works embodies all of the City's values of equity, resilience, and innovation. There is a need for new investments in infrastructure, and a new opportunity to do this work through an equity lens. Because of the Mayor's leadership, Public Works is well-positioned to leverage new infrastructure investments in the coming years." 

Sean Kershaw was the Vice President at the Wilder Foundation’s Center for Communities from late 2017 to June 2020, overseeing their work in individual leadership development, community capacity building, public policy advancement, and supporting systems change efforts to advance equity. This work included the Promise Neighborhood Schools Initiative in Saint Paul. 

Prior to that, Sean was the Executive Director of the Citizens League from 2003 through 2017. During his tenure, Sean led initiatives that looked at aging, higher education, mental health, and workforce reform, and policy questions related to tax-exempt parcels in Saint Paul. Under Sean’s leadership, the Citizens League launched new initiatives including the Capitol Pathways leadership development program for college students of color, “Policy and a Pint®” with 89.3 The Current, a “Civics@Work” lunchtime policy program, and its annual Civic Celebration honoring civic leaders in Minnesota. 

Prior to the Citizens League, Sean served 11 years as Project Manager and Deputy Director for the City of Saint Paul’s Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED). During his tenure, Sean managed the City’s Business Resource Center and served as business outreach liaison for PED. He also coordinated the City’s e-Government, information technology, charter school, Y2K community outreach, and education initiatives.  Before coming to Minnesota, Sean was planning coordinator for the Public Housing Authority in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. 

Sean and his husband Tim Hawkins co-produce the Grand Oak Opry concert series with neighborhood volunteers, which has raised over $70,000 for local artists and brought over 8,000 people into their West 7th neighborhood in Saint Paul. Sean chairs the board of Propel Nonprofits and is on the board for The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. Sean attends House of Mercy Lutheran Church in Saint Paul. Sean and Tim have two children, Aidan and Grace, and an English Bull Terrier named Pearl. 

“John McCarthy has served our city with distinction for more than a decade,” said Mayor Carter. “His dedication and experience will be invaluable as we continue to navigate through these challenging times.”

“It’s an honor to be able to work with Mayor Carter towards his vision of a City that works for all Saint Paul residents,” said McCarthy. “Between the COVID pandemic and ongoing equity issues in our community, we face many challenges ahead. Saint Paul’s Finance department is made up of dedicated and talented professionals who are up to the task. I am proud to lead such an impressive team.”   

John McCarthy joined the City of Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Services in 2007, serving as Chief Budget Analyst from 2013 to 2017. He became Budget Director in 2017, and has served as Interim Director since February 2019. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and graduated Magna cum laude from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs with a Master of Public Policy.

Saint Paul’s Office of Financial Services manages the City’s financial resources and assets to ensure taxpayers’ confidence, organizational effectiveness, and the City’s fiscal integrity and AAA bond rating.  The Office of Financial Services divisions include the City’s Accounting, Budget and Innovation, Real Estate, and Treasury sections. 

Melanie McMahon will serve as the Executive Project Lead for Redevelopment to drive progress on eight key real estate projects within the City that are in varied points of development. These projects include the Ford Site, Sears, Central Station, RiverCentre Ramp, Hillcrest, Boys Totem Town, Snelling-Midway, and Rivers Edge. With the Ford Site entering a construction phase it is the immediate priority.  

“We are thrilled that Melanie McMahon will continue to support our community in this new role,” said Mayor Carter. “Her broad array of experience in the public sector, including her work on the Ford Site will help usher these vital economic development projects forward.” 

“I’m thrilled to be able to work to progress the city’s vision of innovative and inclusive development on the Ford site,” said McMahon. “Saint Paul is uniquely positioned, both with the Ford site and other major redevelopment opportunities, to continue its growth in an equitable and beneficial way for both current and future residents and businesses, and I’m excited to help guide this growth.”    

“Melanie is one of the most talented, hardest working and smartest people that I’ve had the privilege of working with,” said Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority Chair and Ward 3 Councilmember Chris Tolbert. “Although it will be a big loss for the Ward 3 office, I believe that in her new role she will be in an even better position to use her talents to help lead Saint Paul into the future- I’m excited for her and our city.”  

Melanie McMahon began her career as an attorney at the law firm of Rider Bennett LLP, representing clients in commercial defense cases and counseling them on a wide range of legal issues while also volunteering on pro bono cases with the firm.  

Melanie then worked in the Minnesota House of Representatives as a Committee Administrator in the Public Safety Finance Division, where she advised the Division Chair on the political, legal and fiscal aspects of hundreds of proposed bills that went through Division while managing the budget bills of the Division that totaled nearly $2 billion.  

As a Community Services Attorney in the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, Melanie designed and implemented strategies to engage community partners and worked with law enforcement to strategically address areas of increased crime in the community. 

While serving as a Legislative Aide in the Saint Paul City Council Ward 3 Office, Melanie designed and implemented public policy initiatives to advance the goals of the Ward 3 office. She was the principal staff and liaison in the City Council between the City’s administration, businesses, and community organizations on high profile regional issues in the Ward, including the Ford site rezoning and development proposal. 

Melanie is an active member of her community, volunteering as Board President of the Highland District Council, as a Commissioner on the Saint Paul Planning Commission, and the Vice-Chair of the Capital Improvement Budget Committee of Saint Paul. She currently serves as a Board Member on the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. 

Melanie graduated from the College of Saint Benedict and received her Juris Doctorate from the University of St. Thomas School of Law and is admitted to practice as a licensed attorney in the State of Minnesota.

The Executive Project Lead will oversee the development of eight key real estate projects within the City. These projects include the Ford Site, Sears, Central Station, RiverCentre Ramp, Hillcrest, Boys Totem Town, Snelling-Midway, and Rivers Edge. These projects are at varied points in their development, with the initial development project entering a construction phase and immediate priority being the Ford site. The position will work out of the Mayor's Office, reporting to the Deputy Mayor and the Cabinet of Department Directors.