Fort Smith A&P Commission identifies three finalists for executive director job

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 830 views 

The three finalists for the executive director of the Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion Commission include a director of food, music and technology for the Business Alliance, the executive director for the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau in Osage Beach, Mo., and the executive director of the Eglin Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in Elgin, Ill.

In response to a request by Talk Business & Politics for the resumes of the three finalists for the position, the A&P Commission provided information on the finalists Thursday (Nov. 12) evening. Those finalists are William Sabo of Fort Smith, formerly of New Orleans, Timothy Jacobsen of Osage Beach and Krisilee Murphy of Eglin.

Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken said the A&P Commission let SearchWide Global know Tuesday who they wanted to name the next executive director and an offer would be made by 11 a.m. Thursday (Nov. 12). The A&P Commission agreed in July to contract with SearchWide Global to advertise and recruit for the executive director. SearchWide Global is an executive recruitment firm primarily for companies in the travel, tourism, hospitality, convention, trade association, venue management and experiential marketing industries, according to its website.

Former executive director Claude Legris retired July 10. Carolyn Joyce, group sales travel manager for the Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau, was named the interim executive director after his retirement. Joyce, who also has portrayed Miss Laura as an ambassador for Fort Smith for many years, retired in late October.

“This extremely important position attracted a large number of applicants, proving that Fort Smith is a distinguished city and part of a growing region. Many of the applicants were reticent about applying given the impact it could have on their current position. To elevate their concerns the search firm did not provide paper copies of the applicants resume or cover letter. The members of the A&P Commission received a link to a web portal and a password to review applicant information,” said Jurena Storm, government affairs liaison for the office of Fort Smith Mayor George McGill.

She said the A&P Commission has extended an offer of employment to one of the candidates but did not say which candidate.

A&P Commissioner Storm Nolan said the job search garnered almost 100 applicants. SearchWide Global narrowed those down to eight or nine candidates. The search committee further reduced that to three candidates they asked to come to  Fort Smith for interviews.

“We are down to our final candidates. … We are very close, hopefully, to having a new executive director,” said Storm Nolan, A&P commissioner and head of the search committee for the new executive director. All three candidates have extensive experience advertising and promotion for a city or area, Nolan said.

“Listening to what these candidates said about what they plan to do in Fort Smith and how much jelling in the community between tourism and events they plan really opened our eyes,” Nolan said. “We are excited about any one of these because of what we think they can do.”

Sabo said of his last position on his LinkedIn profile that “New Orleans relies on the legacy industries of food and music as the core of its cultural economy that drives billions in tourism revenue. These industries often lag in terms of technology to create efficiencies, start new businesses and expand into new revenue streams. We help close the gap between technology in the food and music industries to help support and grow these important resources.” He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Tulane University in New Orleans.

Jacobsen has been executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau since 2005. Prior to that he served as the general manager Inn at Grand Glaize Lakeside Resort & Conference Center in Osage Beach. He attended Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Murphy has served as the executive director of the Eglin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau since July 2018. She served as the director of marketing from 2009-2018. She has a bachelor’s degree in recreation, parks and tourism administration from Western Illinois University.

The A&P Commission named former Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders interim director Nov. 8. Sanders said he hoped he would not have the position for long. Nolan said they expected the new executive director to begin around the first of the year.

The annual salary range for the position is $84,822 to $127,212, Lolley said. At the time of his retirement, Legris was earning $96,646.68 per year, according Geffken.