Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Reed names top watershed department official to serve as city's interim chief operating officer

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Interim Chief Operating Officer Michael Geisler
As Mayor Kasim Reed continues his national search for Atlanta's next chief operating officer, he's tasking a high-ranking watershed department official to fill the role in the interim.

Michael Geisler, who since November 2012 has worked as the city's watershed department deputy commissioner and chief financial officer, will take over the reins for departing COO Duriya Farooqui, effective January 31. As interim COO, Geisler will not only oversee the city's daily operations, but he could help keep the wheels turning on Reed's most important initiatives.

"Michael Geisler brings a wealth of proven business, financial and leadership experience to the position that makes him a perfect fit for keeping the City of Atlanta moving forward," Mayor Reed said in a statement. "I'm confident he will work well with our senior leadership team to continue leading initiatives within city operations, including public safety."

Farooqui, who first started at City Hall in 2007 during former Mayor Shirley Franklin's administration, last month announced that she had accepted a senior-level position with international consulting firm Bain and Company. The 37-year-old Lake Claire resident was the youngest person and first Asian American to hold the COO position.

Since joining City Hall's ranks, Geisler has received credit for refinancing more than $500 million in Watershed Management debt - a move that the city says has saved an estimated $12 million - and helped the department earn a higher credit rating from three separate agencies.

"I'm honored to be appointed to this critical role by Mayor Reed, and will continue building on the success of my predecessors to maintain the City of Atlanta's strong record of performance and customer service delivery," Geisler added in a statement.

Reed has also promoted Kristin Canavan Wilson, head of the city's Bloomberg-funded innovation delivery team, and Tom Weyandt, a senior transportation policy advisor, to deputy chief operating officer posts. They'll join Deputy Chief Operating Officer Hans Utz, who last month received a suspension for making inappropriate remarks about Cobb County, underneath Geisler's post.

The search for both a permanent chief operating officer and airport general manager will continue in the coming months. Reed, who recently said the hires would happen within 100 days, will seek help from the Atlanta Committee for Progress - a panel of business executives, academic officials, and other local leaders.

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