By DOTTY NIST
TDC Review Committee members have completed their task of selecting 10 finalist candidates for the soon-to-be-vacated South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) executive director position.
The decision took place at the review committee’s second meeting on April 1 at the South Walton Courthous Annex.
Current TDC Executive Director Dawn Moliterno tendered her resignation several months ago and will serve her last day on April 9.
The five-member TDC Review Committee was chosen by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners and included Jeanne Dailey, Sally Merrifield, Teddy Stewart, Art Miller, and Don Harrison. At a previous meeting, the committee had decided on seven criteria for scoring candidates. The criteria consisted of: number of years of relevant experience, motivation/continuous career progression; coastal community experience/beach restoration experience; experience working with elected officials; experience with budgets and grant applications; project management experience; and supervisory/developmental experience.
Prior to the second meeting, each committee member had examined the 45 applications submitted for the post individually, and each had identified their own top 10.
At the April 1 meeting, all candidates not getting the vote of at least one committee member as being in his or her top 10 were eliminated. Then each committee member gave a score to the remaining candidates based on a rating between one and 10 on each of the seven criteria. Seven was the lowest possible rating for the combined criteria and 70 the highest.
Walton County Human Resources Manager then tabulated all the scores and announced the candidates garnering the highest total scores, in sequence of higher to lower scores.
They were: Kelly M. Miller, Douglas C. Traub, Robert L. Warren, Terry Cook, James B. Bagby, Yan Baczkowski, Dennis A. Tracy, Jessica L. Jarosz, Julie Morgan, and Mary Chris Murry. These are the 10 finalists to be recommended to county commissioners.
The Herald/Breeze obtained the following details on the 10 finalists, based on information provided in their applications.
Kelly M. Miller – With 30 years’ destination management and economic development experience, Miller has been employed with a number of convention and visitors bureaus, among those the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Asheville (NC) Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he served as executive director from 1999 to 2011. Most recently, he was employed as president/CEO for Tampa Bay & Co., Tampa Bay’s economic development organization, supervising a $10.2 million annual budget and a team of 50 destination marketing professionals. Miller holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the University of Montana.
Douglas C. Traub – A native of Miami, is currently a resident of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., where since 2010 he has served as president and CEO of the city’s convention and visitors bureau. His 20-year career in tourism also features employment with a number of other convention and visitors bureaus, including service as marketing director for the Jekyll Island Authority, which oversees conservation and development of the island, and as president/CEO of the Huntington Beach (Calif.) Convention and Visitors Bureau. Traub holds an MBA degree from Mercer University, with a dual major in international business and marketing, and a bachelor or arts degree from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, with a major in journalism.
Robert L. Warren – Currently employed as executive director for the Evansville (Ind.) Convention and Visitors Bureau, Warren formerly served for eight years as president/CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and Bay County TDC, working during that time with the Walton County TDC on a number of projects. He was part of the Executive Steering Committee for the relocation of the Panama City-Bay County International Airport (now the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport) and was a member of the team recruiting Southwest Airlines to the airport. Warren has served in the public and private sectors of the tourism industry and has 26 years of executive director/CEO tourism experience. He has worked with the VisitGalena.org destination marketing organization in Illinois and with the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. Warren is a graduate of Ball High School in Galveston, Texas.
Terry Cook – Cook has served from 2001 to the present as as executive direct for the Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau in Harrison, Ark. Among other employment experience listed is serving as president/CEO of the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce, as president/CEO of the Eureka Springs (Ark.) Chamber of Commerce and as director of sales and marketing for the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs. Cook holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at Brownsville, associate of arts degrees in business administration and poltical science from the University of Texas at Brownsville, and a tourism marketing professional degree from North Georgia College.
James “Jim” B. Bagby – Bagby, Rosemary Beach town manager, has worked in Walton County for nine years. He is a resident of Destin and a member of the Destin City Council. After studying pre-law at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, from 1975 to 1976, Bagby entered the U.S. Military Academy in West Point and earned a bachelor of science in engineering. He then attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, graduating with a master’s degree in public administration. Joining the U.S. Army in 1997, Bagby served in the military until 2003, doing duty at Hurlburt Field from 1999 to 2003 and completing his military career as chief of joint support element. Bagby lists his strengths as strategic planning, fiscal management, personnel management, contract oversight, and team building. He indicates that as TDC director he would draw upon his experience balancing the needs of residents and visitors while working with Rosemary Beach.
Yan Baczkowski – Miami resident Yan Baczkowski’s experience in sales, communications, and government relations work in both the public and private sectors spans approximately 20 years. He lists his most recent experience as serving, beginning in 2010, as CEO for the Verbier Ski Resort in St. Bernard, Switzerland, overseeing a staff of 50. From 2006 to 2010, he worked as managing director for the city of LaBaule, a popular seaside resort in France. Baczkowski holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Dennis A. Tracy – Tracy is a Jacksonville resident with 30 years’ experience in the hotel, visitor attraction, sales and marketing fields, with five organizations, including Visit Jacksonville, the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, and Westin Hotel in Cincinnati. Currently, as senior vice president of destination sales and management with the Visit Jacksonville and the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tracy manages a team of 11 and an overall budget of $3.5 million. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Jessica L. Jarosz – As president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast, Fort Walton Beach resident Jessica L. Jarosz oversees club operations for eight locations in a four-county service area. In other work experience, she served as area director for Troy University from 2006-2011, and, from 1998 to 2006, she ran her own consulting business, Southside Services, providing marketing, Web design, and bookkeeping serices to businesses. Jarosz holds a BSBA from the University of West Florida and an MBA from the University of Florida.
Julie Morgan – A Sweetwater, Tenn. resident, Morgan has 12 years’ combined experience in the tourism industry. She has served for the past nine years as director of tourism for Monroe County, Tenn. Morgan holds a bachelor of science in organizational management from Tusculum College in Greenville, Tenn., and an associate of business, hospitality and tourism degree from Baker College in Flint, Mich.
Mary Chris Murry – A native of Walton County, Murry has 23 years’ experience leading a marketing agency. She currently resides in Atlanta, where she works as executive vice president and managing partner for McRae Communications. Among the company’s clients Georgia Tourism and American Express Travelers Cheques. Murry is a graduate of Walton High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and marketing from the University of Alabama.
In addition to the 10 finalists selected, there were 35 additional candidates for the TDC executive director position. Those candidates’ names and places of residence follow: Abel, Jan – New Holland, Pa.; Benson, Benjamin J. – Joliet, Ill.; Chadwick, Paisha – Santa Rosa Beach; Cohen, John – Hesperus, Co.; Collins, Lance R. – Zionsville, Ind.; Dale, Brian – Glasgow, Ky.; Del Carlo, Maria P. – Panama City Beach; Deroche, Channing – Houma, La; Flanegan, Anne B. – Atlanta, Ga.; Gabor-Nitz, Adam – Milwaukee, Wisc; Giantonio, John – Centennial, Co.; Good, Cynthia – Louisville, Ky; Gunty, Stephen – Munster, Ind.; Hart, Ben R. – Brunswick, Ga.; Hatcher, Charles (Rick) – Tallahassee; Henning, Randall J. – DeFuniak Springs; Howe, Paul – Hudson, NC; Lawrence, Brian – Seagrove Beach; McCaskill, Tiffany – Tallahassee; McMichael, Lee – Valdosta, Ga; Michel, Debbie F. – Marietta, Ga; Ogaard, Louis – Cochabamba, Bolivia South America; Ogles, Mark – Bradenton; Price, Kerri R. – Santa Rosa Beach; Rapuano, Michael – Destin; Robertson, Carol – Atlanta, Ga; Scally, Niall D. – Santa Rosa Beach; Scardo, Joi F. – no address provided; Singh, Kunwar R. – Hollywood, alternate address Toorak 3142 Australia; Sprinkle, Paulette – Martinsburg, WV; Thomas, Carryn G. – DeFuniak Springs; Vigil, Jennifer M. – Panama City; Watson, Carl – Cleburne, Tex.; White, Maunsel – Seagrove Beach; and Whittington, Clark K. – Tallahassee.
The TDC Review Committee’s recommendations on the 10 finalist candidates will be presented to the county commissioners during the April 9 regular BCC meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.
At the April 1 meeting, MacGinnis indicated that, after reviewing data from the applications on file, she would possibly recommend that additional candidates be interviewed based on veterans’ preference requirements and on the objective of including diversity candidates in the pool of interviewees. Walton County is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Following that review, it was reported that MacGinnis had determined that all candidates eligible for addition under those categories were already included in the top 10.