Search narrowed to two finalists for Fort Smith finance director

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,113 views 

Two finalists for the director of finance position for the City of Fort Smith will be in town Monday for interviews. Fort Smith Mayor George McGill and city directors were invited to a lunch Monday at the Fort Smith Police Department to meet Christopher Ford of Liberal Kan., and Andrew Richards of Winslow, who will be participating in a portion of the city’s department head interview process.

Department head finalists are interviewed by panels selected by City Administrator Carl Geffken as part of the interview process, Geffken told directors earlier this summer. The public lunch gives directors and others with the city a chance to learn more about finalists prior to a hiring decision being made, he said.

The department head position was left open when former Finance Director Jennifer Walker resigned July 26 to take a job in Colorado. Victoria Runkle is serving as the interim director of finance.

Ford is the director of finance for the City of Liberal, a position he has held since 2002. Prior to that he was a staff accountant with Byron Bird and Associates in Liberal. He has an associate degree from Steward County Community College in Liberal and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from DeVry Institute of Technology in Phoenix.

He completed the certified public manager program from the University of Kansas in Topeka, Kan., in 2006. The Kansas Certified Public Manager (CPM) program is for “managers working in government agencies, nonprofits and organizations that contract to provide public services and meet community needs,” according to the university’s website.

Richards, a certified public accountant, was a partner with BKD, LLP in Little Rock from 1997 to 2018. He served as a state and local government expert panel member with the American Institute of CPAs from 2009 to 2012. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas.

A nation-wide search to fill the position resulted in 11 applicants, narrowed to Richards and Ford as the finalists.