Miami's downtown development agency seeks out-of-state director
By Catherine Lackner
The six-month hunt for an executive director for Miami's Downtown Development Authority is being extended, with no Floridians now being considered.
"We haven't found anyone yet," said Loretta Cockrum, authority board member and chair of the search committee. "We had a time frame and we have abandoned it. We decided finding the right person is more important than trying to meet a deadline."
The job has been vacant since former director Patti Allen resigned suddenly in March. The search committee had hoped to make a hire by September.
"We've hired a consultant," Ms. Cockrum said - Annapolis, MD-based Joan Jorgenson Consulting, a search firm the authority hired at the beginning of the summer. "This is truly a national search."
Alonso Menendez, acting executive director, confirmed that the search committee "interviewed a candidate on Aug. 15." He said he expects additional candidates to flow through the authority's offices on the 18th floor of the First Union Financial Center.
"All of the people we've contacted have come from out of state," Ms. Cockrum said. "We have such high parameters and expectations that we have not received any local resumes that would be comparable."
Joan Jorgenson Consulting developed a survey that Ms. Cockrum presented at the authority's May meeting.
The data indicated that, in cities similar to Miami where the population exceeds 300,000, executive director salaries ranged from less than $40,000 to more than $100,000, with 32% at $100,000-plus.
When salaries are ranked by organizational budgets, the pay for CEOs of entities whose budgets top $1.5 million ranged from $68,000 to $178,000, with the average at $121,166.
Ms. Allen was paid slightly more than $98,000 a year and received a severance package worth $83,156.
Across the country, a development agency CEO's total compensation in 2001 ranged from $26,100 to $260,000, with a median of $91,000, according to the survey. Compensation was up $12,000 from the 1999 survey.
With a budget of nearly $2 million, "we should be able to afford the best," Ms. Cockrum said at the outset of the hunt.
Joan Jorgenson was a good choice to spearhead the search, Ms. Cockrum said said, because "this is all she does. She has access to people who aren't necessarily looking for a job. She's going to talk with business leaders as well as with us to find out what kind of person we'd like to see in the job."
As part of a May discussion, Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton, authority chairman, said he had been getting calls from people interested in the job.
"But," he said, "I tell them this isn't my hire. It's a board hire."
"I've gotten calls, too," Ms. Cockrum said. "Some people are asking if we're going to do a real search. I tell them we absolutely are and they can watch the process if they don't believe us."