Naomi Roundtree named new Fort Smith HR director, will begin Oct. 17

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 804 views 

The city of Fort Smith has filled one of its three remaining department head vacancies almost one year to the day after the position was unexpectedly vacated.

City Administrator Carl Geffken announced Friday (Sept. 9) that Naomi Roundtree was hired as the city’s director of human resources. Roundtree hails from Hammond, La., and will take over effective Oct. 17. She is a veteran of the U.S. Army, and has worked in HR for more than 15 years.

“Roundtree has experience with the complex issues facing the city’s workforce, including benefits management and compliance with federal and state human resource regulations,” the release stated.

Additionally, said Geffken, she has demonstrated technical proficiency “with the mechanics of human resource management.”

He continued: “Ms. Roundtree exhibited the assertiveness and drive that I expect from a department head position. I believe she will be a great addition to the city’s management team and will provide good service to the city and its workforce of over 900 employees.”

Roundtree will earn a salary of $83,000 per year. Additional benefits will include standard city insurance contributions and a car allowance of $450 per month.

Much of Roundtree’s experience is with the Personnel Services Specialist program of the U.S. Army, but she also earned a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University (ASU) and plans to complete a master’s degree of legal studies focusing on HR/employment /aw from ASU in May 2017.

Roundtree was selected out of 37 applicants responding to a national search conducted for the city by Strategic Government Resources, a Dallas-based firm focusing on local government issues and recruiting local government executives. Roundtree interviewed with a panel consisting of Geffken and Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders as well as five area business leaders in Denise Giambalvo, executive director of Employers’ Health Coalition; Jason Green, vice-president of human resources at Baldor; Pat Powell, vice-president of human resources at Golden Living; Monica Gore, human resources manager at Weldon, Williams & Lick; and Leon Thompson of Controlled Access Systems.

Former HR Director Richard Jones announced his resignation on Sept. 21, 2015 with an effective date of Oct. 2, 2015. Jones’ unexpected departure occurred during a shakeup of city leadership beginning with ex-City Administrator Ray Gosack’s abrupt resignation in July 2015 and continuing with former Fire Chief Mike Richards and former Finance Director Kara Bushkuhl.

Jennifer Walker stepped in immediately for Bushkuhl, but the Fire Chief slot remained vacant until Philip Christensen was named to the post last July after Richards’ departure in October 2015.

Geffken now focuses efforts on filling the two remaining department head vacancies — Fort Smith Police Chief and Utilities Director. Former Chief Kevin Lindsey stepped down in March after a witness overheard him making a racially charged remark and reported it to IT Department Head Russell Gibson, who filed a formal complaint. Former Utilities Director Steve Parke retired on April 1 after several decades with the city.

Interviews began on Thursday, Sept. 8, for the utilities position. Police chief candidates will follow on Sept. 15. Geffken said he plans to have the two positions filled by Oct. 1. Talk Business & Politics recently provided biographies for the finalists in all three positions at this link.