Joseph Abruzzo sworn in as Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller
WEST PALM BEACH – Joseph Abruzzo was officially sworn in Tuesday as Palm Beach County’s Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, thanking everyone who has supported him during his time in the Florida Legislature and in his new role as Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller, and pledging to build stronger relationships with his fellow Constitutional officers and justice partners.
He also spoke directly to his team of nearly 700 employees, committing to a new course for the office – including the creation of an ombudsman position who will report directly to Clerk Abruzzo, and serve as a direct advocate for employees.
“To the employees who are watching: You are the foundation of this office. Everything that occurs positive, happens from you,” Clerk Abruzzo said. “I enter this office with you in mind. We are going to set a new philosophical course of our office, and how it’s done.”
Clerk Abruzzo’s priorities for employees will include reviewing the office’s safety standards, offering improved child care options for working parents, and expanding the office’s award-winning wellness programs.
He also announced that he has requested that the state’s Auditor General conduct a full review of the office’s practices and policies, to ensure they are in compliance with state law.
“This is not a mark on the great work that everyone has been doing. We are going to get a clean bill of health,” Clerk Abruzzo said. “… And if everything is not up to standards of what they need to comply with under the law, we will quickly and effectively change those.”
He also promised to not accept campaign contributions from any vendors affiliated with the office, and would not accept campaign contributions from employees when he runs for re-election.
“This office will be completely free of political influence, based on political contributions,” Clerk Abruzzo said.
Clerk Abruzzo’s Oath of Office was broadcast virtually due to COVID-19, with a small group of Clerk’s office leaders, as well as close friends and family. Clerk Abruzzo’s son, Joseph II, held the Bible for his father while he was sworn in by Chief Judge Krista Marx.
The full video of Clerk Abruzzo’s Oath of Office ceremony can be found on the Clerk’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/clerkpbc.
State Attorney Dave Aronberg welcomed the socially distanced audience in attendance for the swearing in for his friend and former colleague in the Florida Legislature, sharing his thoughts on the critical role that the Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller plays in Palm Beach County’s government.
“If you think about it, the Clerk’s office is the most important office in our county, that few people outside the courthouse know about,” Aronberg said. “They deal with all the paperwork, they deal with the financial oversight, they keep the court system running.”
Rabbi Amy Rader led the invocation at the ceremony, praising Clerk Abruzzo’s leadership and his service to the community.
“If anyone can protect our public records and our public funds with integrity and honesty and responsibility, Joe Abruzzo, you are the one to do that,” Rabbi Rader said.
Clerk Abruzzo also used his Oath of Office ceremony as an opportunity to introduce his leadership team, most of them promoted from within the office’s ranks. That team includes:
- Shannon-Ramsey Chessman, Chief Deputy Clerk: A 16-year veteran of the Clerk’s office, Shannon will serve as Clerk Abruzzo’s second in command.
- Amy Borman, Esq., Chief Operating Officer for Courts and Official Records: Amy previously served as Director of Branch Operations for the Clerk’s office, after serving more than 12 years as General Counsel with the 15th Judicial Circuit.
- Radcliffe Brown, Chief Operating Officer of Finance: Radcliffe has been with the Clerk’s office for more than 28 years, most recently serving as Director of Finance Services.
- Kathy Burstein, Chief Communications Officer: Kathy has served as the Clerk’s Chief Communications Officer since October 2018, and will continue in this role with Clerk Abruzzo.
- Jessica Neer McDonald, Esq., General Counsel: Jessica was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars” in 2020, and brings her experience in both state government and law to the Clerk’s office.
- Louis Modesti, Director of Employee Engagement and Ombudsman: Louis will serve as the Clerk’s Ombudsman, a position created by Clerk Abruzzo to serve as a direct advocate for employees. Louis has an extensive background in customer service, human resources and private business.
- Roger Trca, Inspector General: Roger will continue his role as the Inspector General for the Clerk’s office, a position he has held since the Clerk’s Division of Inspector General was created in 2009. Roger has been with the Clerk’s office since 2007.
- Lisa Turner, Chief Human Resources Officer: Lisa has twice served as the Clerk’s Chief Human Resources Officer, initially joining the office in 2012 after a 30-year career at City Utilities of Springfield, MO. She briefly left the office to return to Missouri, but returned as Chief Human Resources Officer in 2017.