Sawyer Conard Takes Charge of Planning Commission

Karen Sawyer Conard, of Andover, was recently named executive director of Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.

She replaces Dennis DiZoglio, who retired.

“We are delighted to have Karen join us as executive director,” said Commission Chairman Robert Lavoie. “She brings decades of experience and extensive planning knowledge as well as deep community, government, and business relationships. We are confident she will not only continue but also build upon the strong collaborative and cooperative development efforts of retired Executive Director Dennis DiZoglio.”

Conard brings 27 years of experience in the public and private sectors, including having served in both the executive and legislative branches of state government. She previously served as Peabody’s director of Community Development and Planning, where she oversaw planning, zoning, community development, building/inspections and conservation with a staff of 25. Before that Conard worked as Methuen’s Economic and Community Development director. She also served in various capacities at the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, Massachusetts Office of Business Development, Department of Housing and Community Development, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Office of Gov. William F. Weld and Massachusetts State Senate.

She also serves as chairman of the Peabody Community Development Authority, which administers a revolving loan fund designed to stimulate economic development throughout the city.

Conard was among 25 people who sought the position.

“It is a true honor and privilege to be appointed as the next executive director,” said Conard. “The outstanding quality of the work and knowledge base of the staff and the Commission are wonderful attributes which I have admired for years, as both a resident of the Valley for 23 years and during my time working for the City of Methuen. I look forward to following in the great footsteps of Dennis DiZoglio and working on behalf of the municipalities we serve.”

Conard is a graduate of Duke University with a bachelor’s in political science and French.