Lisa Gordon, ABI's chief operating officer who has led the project since former CEO Brian Leary was ousted last year, made the cut. So has Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead and Tom Weyandt, Mayor Kasim Reed's senior transportation policy adviser and well-known wonk. Paul Morris, the former deputy secretary for transit for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and Aundra "Drew" Wallace, the executive director for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, are the only outside-Georgia candidates to get a closer look from ABI's board.
In a statement, Reed praised the smart-growth project and said the executive search process resulted in "a strong slate of qualified candidates to continue the momentum of this vital transportation organization."
Said ABI Board Chairman John Somerhalder: "We were pleased with the tremendous interest of candidates from across the country in leading this organization. The caliber of the finalists and others interested in the position is a testament to the opportunity it represents for the City of Atlanta and the region. Each of the finalists has the necessary skills and experience to continue the project's momentum and success and the Board looks forward to making a final selection. Each of these candidates can work with the Board, critical partners of the organization and diverse stakeholders to continue to move Atlanta forward."
According to Maria Saporta, the selection of the finalists was made by ABI's Executive Committee on April 17 in a closed session. The names were withheld until last night "because they had to make sure to touch all the bases," the veteran civic and business columnist reports. Nine candidates were interviewed, she says, and Somerhalder hopes the board can make a selection in the next month.
Worth noting: Saporta says Reed tasked ABI staff with acquiring or controlling a third key segment of the project's rail corridor. It'd be tough but worth it. The so-called southeastern segment of tracks would seem to be the most likely piece. The approximately 6-mile stretch of tracks serves one customer and, when combined with the Beltline's southwest side, which it leases from the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the northeast, which ABI owns, would create a seamless arc of trails and transit.
But we digress! After the jump, bios on each of the candidates, courtesy of the city.
Lisa Gordon's 23-year career includes a track record of success in city management and public/private projects. For the past three years, she has been the Chief Operating Officer of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and, since August 2012, has lead the organization as COO. Previously, Ms. Gordon served as an Officer for the Office of Enterprise Assets Management for the City of Atlanta during Mayor Shirley Franklin's administration. Ms. Gordon's previous experience includes three years as City Manager for East Point, Georgia and, from 1990 through 2004, she held increasingly responsible positions in Austin, Texas culminating as an Assistant City Manager. She holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, a Masters in Public Administration from Syracuse and a Masters in Accounting from Nova Southeastern University. Ms. Gordon is also a Certified Public Accountant and a graduate of Leadership Atlanta.
Tad Leithead has spent his career in private and public sector roles. Since 2010, he has served as Chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission which coordinates the transportation, water and other infrastructure and social programs for the 10 County Atlanta Metropolitan Region. He also provides consulting services to a number of companies and institutions in the Atlanta area focusing on business development, governmental affairs and community relations. Mr. Leithead's previous experience includes seven years as Senior Vice President of Development for Cousins Properties and earlier as a Partner with Childress Klein Properties, two of the most respected private sector real estate developers in the Southeast. In these roles, Mr. Leithead was a team member involved in the development of projects in the office, multifamily residential, retail and hospitality sectors. He has also served as Chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District and was a Principal with Urban One Associates where he provided consulting services for creating public-private partnerships, transportation projects and real estate development in the Atlanta area. Mr. Leithead holds an undergraduate degree from Washington & Lee University.
Paul Morris has spent almost 30 years in consulting and line management roles focusing on transportation, urban regeneration and development, natural resource management, public parks, and the development of corporate and institutional facilities throughout the United States and Canada. Most recently, Mr. Morris was Deputy Secretary for Transit for the North Carolina Department of Transportation where he was responsible for the department's multi-modal divisions as well as a number of land use and transportation initiatives. Previous to that role, he worked with a number of consulting and investment firms including Parsons Brinkerhoff, Cherokee Investment Partners and his own firm, McKeever/Morris Inc. He has received numerous awards and recognition from groups including the State of North Carolina, The Waterfront Center, 1000 Friends of Oregon, National League of Cities, US DOT and the Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Morris received his undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Oregon.
Drew Wallace has provided leadership in a number of urban and economic development and financial roles throughout his career. Today, he is the Executive Director for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, a quasi-governmental corporate body formed to assist in the effort to return abandoned, foreclosed and vacant properties to productive use within the city of Detroit. Prior to being named to this position, Mr. Wallace was the Senior Vice President For Real Estate Development and Living, a senior leadership role within the North Carolina Community Development Initiative, a public private partnership. Earlier in his career, Mr. Wallace spent nine years working in the Miami-Dade County community in a number of increasingly responsible positions including Deputy Director for the Office of Community and Economic Development and President and CEO for the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust. He also served as the Chief Financial Officer for the South Florida Super Bowl XXXIII Host Committee. Mr. Wallace holds an undergraduate degree from Georgia Southern University and his Masters of Public Administration from Clark Atlanta University.
Tom Weyandt is a well-known citizen of Atlanta having served in leadership roles supporting public policy making, urban planning, transportation and housing among many other issues. Presently, he is the Senior Policy Advisor for Transportation in Mayor Kasim Reed's office for the City of Atlanta. In this role, he serves as the mayor's principal liaison with all relevant transportation agencies in the region. Mr. Weyandt is actively involved in projects including the Atlanta Streetcar and the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority. Previously, Mr. Weyandt served as Director of Comprehensive Planning for the Atlanta Regional Commission. Among his earlier career roles he was a Senior Associate and Executive Director for the Research Atlanta Project at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. He also served as Director of Transportation for the Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee and Commissioner of Planning and Development for the City of Atlanta. Mr. Weyandt received his undergraduate degree in international affairs from Georgetown University.
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