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WHA says it's making progress on new CEO, staffing issues

From left: WHA Board Chair Al Sharp, Interim CEO Vernice Hamilton, communications coordinator Julia Shaw.
Benjamin Schachtman
From left: WHA Board Chair Al Sharp, Interim CEO Vernice Hamilton, communications coordinator Julia Shaw.

In addition to a mold crisis that has displaced over a hundred families, the Wilmington Housing Authority has also struggled with the loss of top administrators and staff. WHQR reports on efforts to hire replacements for those positions.

WHA’s most pressing personnel need is a new CEO — the former head of the authority, Katrina Redmon, quit in the summer of 2021 after clashing with the board, just as the mold problem was becoming chronic. While there had been mold issues for months, even years, prior to that point, board members said they were never made aware of the growing crisis.

Board Chair Al Sharp said WHA has hired Gans, Gans and Associates [GGA], a minority- and women-owned recruitment firm from Florida. After a brief delay, the company has begun work on a national search — the first of a five-phase process.

Starting with planning WHA is working with the stakeholders to establish job expectations and descriptions. At the same time, Sharp said, GGA is working on networking.

“Gans and Gans has a database of 50,000 people. And they're out with searching for the informal network of people who might be ready or willing to look at at a midsize public housing authority," Sharp said.

The next phases are (2) sourcing and advertising, and (3) screening and selection. Eventually, a short-list of candidates will be presented to the board – the process is likely to take months, but Sharp said he’s confident it will help WHA find the right person. He also noted that after making an offer and hiring (phase 4), GGA will help with the transition for the new CEO — and offer support for up to a year if the hire doesn't work out.

Sharp says they can’t hire some full time positions – like a project manager – until a CEO is found, because WHA doesn't want to 'box in' the new hire, or foreclose options they might have. In the meantime, Sharp is hoping to find someone to step in in the short term.

“So we're hoping that someone in the community would be willing to do an interim role with us, and as be a project manager and handle some of these things that are just time consuming — and that we’re not staffed to do," he said.

WHA has also staffed up their housing voucher team, a department they hope will be able to help with relocating residents displaced by mold. WHA hopes to restructure its waitlist metrics to allow those displaced residents to 'score higher' and make their way higher on the waiting list (even if they're already on it). WHA expects to make an announcement about the application process in the near future.

Related: The latest on the Wilmington Housing Authority mold crisis

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.