Lynn Tran, assistant comptroller of Lawrence, doesn’t spend too much time thinking about the occasional bad headline about her city. She’s too busy keeping her eye on the numbers. There are accounts to reconcile – who has time for anything else?
Tran has been with the finance department for 20 years. She gets in shortly after 8 a.m. and gets to work, taking in payments, reconciling accounts and ironing out accounting discrepancies.
“I’m basically glued to my computer the whole day,” she said. “It’s a boring job, but someone’s gotta do it.”
That kind of dedication has been invaluable in a city that’s seen some turbulent decades, according to Alexcy Vega, chief assessor for the city, who nominated Tran for a Women of FIRE award. Tran has worked under five mayors, several dozen city councilors and two state-appointed overseers, and her unflagging positivity and hard work have helped keep the city moving forward despite its bumps in the road. If you have a question or need help, Vega said, Tran will dive in and help out.
“Despite her quiet demeanor, she is a force to be reckoned with behind the scenes,” he wrote in his nomination. “Clearly, her time on the job is a testament to her work ethic and demonstrates that she can stand toe to toe with any male or female counterpart to get the job done – and do it better.”
That tireless focus has helped contribute to surer footing for Lawrence, Vega said, pointing to the city’s improved bond ratings over the past several years, as well as a $12 million surplus in free cash.
And despite Tran’s lighthearted description of her work as “boring,” she enjoys the challenge of rooting out discrepancies and making sure the city’s financial documents are in harmony.
She coordinates with the treasurer’s office, tax collector’s office, all the subdivisions of the finance department – “Everything runs through us,” she said. But she’s quick to credit her colleagues for their work, saying that nothing really happens without everyone helping each other.
“It’s a team effort around here,” she said.
Tran sees the same kind of goodwill among her neighbors in Lawrence. She laments the negative headlines about her city – to her, Lawrence is full of kind, genuine and diverse people, and the bad press overshadows all the positive things she sees there.
She also largely keeps out of the political ups and downs happening elsewhere in the building.
“It doesn’t matter who’s sitting in that office up on the third floor,” she said. “My job is to make sure the city is running in a surplus, not a deficit.”