Deputy Comptroller for Public Finance City of New York
Rita J. Sallis knows how to turn negatives into positives. When a high school guidance counselor tried to discourage her from attending college, insisting that she consider only vocational or beauty schools, Sallis’s determination was fired. She realized then that no one but she could decide her destiny, she says.
Although she obtained a B.A. in psychology at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and a master’s in public health at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, her destiny was in finance. She was appointed deputy comptroller for public finance for the city of New York in February 2002, a role in which she oversees the city’s multibillion-dollar debt management program. Since her appointment Sallis has reduce borrowing and costs, drastically slashing the city’s debt portfolio in the process.
Sallis was a public finance investment banker for 20 years before she became deputy comptroller. Most recently, she was managing director at RBC Dain Rausher/Artemis Capital Group Inc., serving as the senior banker and account manager for issuers throughout the Northeast and Midwest regions, including the city of New York and its related entities.
Sallis attributes her professional achievements not only to those who discouraged her, but, more important, to those who encouraged her. The latter include her mother, who made her believe she could accomplish anything, that no one could place limits on her but her. Sallis also points out that she owes much of her success to motherhood, which taught her that “in order to expect the best from others, we must give our very best and live up to our fullest potential.”
Sallis wants others to see her strong faith, commitment to mentoring youth and the premium she places on integrity. Integrity is at the core of what she drums into her daughters: “It’s always best to be gracious to everyone we meet. First, it doesn’t compromise you in any way and, second, you never know when people will show up in your life again.”