Avril Pinder, the deputy county manager for New Hanover County in Eastern North Carolina, has been appointed county manager for Buncombe County. She is the full-time replacement for Wanda Greene, who retired after 20 years in the job in 2017. Greene was indicted three separate times in 2018 by federal authorities for corruption and fraud. Buncombe County commissioners appointed Pinder following a unanimous vote at a special meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Pinder has served as the deputy manager for New Hanover County - which is home to the city of Wilmington - since 2015. She previously served as the county's finance director. The native of Barbados will be the first African-American to hold the position of Buncombe County manager. The post is the most powerful in county government, as the manager oversees day-to-day operations of county government and drafts the county's multi-billion dollar budget.
“In her leadership positions Pinder has been involved in proactive planning, preserving key environmental resources, improving quality of life, affordable housing efforts, and addressing the opioid crisis,” noted Commission Chair Brownie Newman in a statement. “Her experience will be valuable as we address these issues in Buncombe. Additionally, her enthusiasm and reputation among her peers and community really resonated with the Board.” Pinder addressed commissioners Tuesday following her appointment, saying her chief goal is to restore faith in county government following the Greene scandal. "We will serve the citizens of Buncombe County with the exceptional care and service that they want and deserve," Pinder told commissioners. "When we do these things consistently, in every interaction internally and externally, we can begin to regain the public's trust."
Two interim managers replaced Greene following her June 2017 retirement. The first was Mandy Stone, who was also charged by federal authorities in 2018. George Wood served as interim manager following Stone's abrupt retirement ahead of her indictment. Wanda Greene, her son Michael (who was also a county employee), Stone, and former assistant county manager Jon Creighton were all charged in 2018 for various crimes. Both Greenes were accused of using county-owned credit cards for personal purchases, while Wanda Greene, Creighton, and Stone were all accused of accepting trips and other gifts from a contractor who did business with the county. Wanda Greene was also charged with fraudulently purchasing life insurance policies with county money, and then cashing two out to pay for a real estate purchase right after she retired. All four made plea deals with prosecutors and are awaiting sentencing.