National Director Search Yield Results in Orlando and Charlotte

January 11, 2007 5 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

While the debate over whether or not to waive the city law that requires our Planning Director to have planning experience (sounds crazy, I know) continues, we thought it would be worthwhile to do a little research on how a couple of other cities about our size have handled the hiring process for a Planning Director. We called and spoke with the Planning Directors of Orlando and Charlotte. Dean Grandin is the P.D. of Orlando and Debra Campbell is the P.D. of Charlotte.

In both cases, the Directors were chosen as a result of a true national search.  In the case of Dean, he said the city of Orlando used JobMart and the American Planners Association (APA) to conduct the search.  He said the city leaders became very involved - even to the point of going to the APA National Convention in Seattle to find the right candidates.  Orlando did not use a recruiting firm.  On the other hand, Debra said the city of Charlotte hired a recruiting firm that sent out a number of invitations to other agencies, as well as cold-calling candidates to feel out their interest in the position.

In both cases, the successful candidate faced competition from a number of other candidates who were interviewed for the P.D. position.  In Orlando, Dean competed against 4 other candidates, who all were interviewed, from all across the country.  In Debra's case, she was required to interview against 5 other candidates who "came from all over the country".

In both cases, Orlando and Charlotte's winning Planning Director candidate had ample experience in the field of planning.

In Dean's case, he had 9 years of Planning Director experience in the city of Miami, which was preceded by 5 years of director experience in Yonkers, NY.

In Debra's case, she was the existing Deputy Director of Planning for Charlotte and had over 10 years of planning experience.  In both cases, the hiring cities required (and did not waive the requirement) that the successful candidate have a minimum of 10 years planning experience.  In Orlando, the Deputy Director is required to have a minimum of 9 years experience in the field.

When asked what level of experience the city of Jacksonville should be looking for in a Planning Director, Dean said, "I would think for Jacksonville, you would want no one with less than 10 years of experience and 4 years of supervisory experience in the field of planning."

Neither Dean nor Debra were appointed by the mayor or had only purely political experience.

And a note to our mayor and those who were on that "national search", if you'd like Dean or Debra's number, give us a call... they seemed at least a little interested in what was going on (and we're not even charging a recruiting fee).