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Search Committee Forming To Find The Next WDI Leader

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Aug 5, 2020
A search committee is being formed to find the next president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc., officials said Wednesday. 

Colin Tarrant, a local attorney and member of the Wilmington Downtown Inc. (WDI) Board of Directors, is leading the effort to put together the committee over the next couple of weeks, he said.

Tarrant aims to form a five- to 10-person search committee with a variety of members, including downtown stakeholders from the public and private sectors, he said.

The formation is taking place as former WDI President and CEO Ed Wolverton ended his time with the organization last week, stepping down as the leader after nearly seven years with the organization.

Officials said previously that the decision for him to leave the post was a mutual one between Wolverton and the executive committee of the WDI board of directors.

Dane Scalise, chair of the WDI Board of Directors, is filling in as the "unofficial interim president and CEO" while also remaining chair of the organization’s board, he said Wednesday.

Scalise is not being paid by the organization for interim president and CEO work, and is doing so on a “voluntary basis to save a little bit of money while we go and do this search for our next CEO and president," he said.

“We worked with Ed in the last couple of weeks to make sure that everything that needed to be handled would be handled," Scalise said. "I think we’re achieving everything that we need to.”

Tarrant, who will be the leader of the search committee, has been involved with WDI for the past 10 years. He has previously held the chair position on the board of directors for two years.

And during his tenure with the organization, Tarrant was involved in the transition from former WDI leader John Hinnant to Wolverton when Wolverton took over as leader of the organization in October 2013.

"So I have some experience not only with WDI but also specifically with the transition from one CEO and president to another," Tarrant said. "I think I have some experience in this organization as well as in this transitionary period, so hopefully I can bring some of that experience to the table to benefit the organization to search for the next leader."

The search committee process is still open-ended for the time being, Tarrant said, adding that in the end, it will be up to WDI's executive committee to make the final call on the new leader.

Tarrant said the search committee's goal is to find an individual who could build upon the success Wolverton had established through the Municipal Services District (MSD) in downtown Wilmington and other initiatives and to take the organization forward to meet new goals that will be established by the WDI board.

The board aims to maintain WDI's current mission, while also making some changes and is looking into performing more of an economic development role for downtown Wilmington, Scalise said. 

"I would also like, and the executive committee has talked about, WDI making more inroads with trying to bring industry, business, into downtown. Trying to go to some of the trade shows that are out and about and telling people the compelling story that is downtown Wilmington," Scalise said. "So I'd say one thing that we are considering that we want to do a little bit new and differently is having somebody run point on those concepts."

​Scalise said the search process could take anywhere from three to six months. 

"It still does remain our goal to cast a wide net. We would like to look here locally because there's so much wonderful talent that's here. But in fairness, we should also consider folks from other areas outside of our city and outside of our state," Scalise said. 

The board is working to put together a job description, but does not have details to share at this time, he said, adding that it is in the process of drawing up the paperwork.

"We want to be deliberate and thoughtful about the way we are doing this," Scalise said, "because, obviously, who our president and CEO is, is very important."
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