Select Board Hears from Applicants for Town Manager Screening Committee

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READING, MA — In a special meeting of the Select Board on Wednesday, the 13 candidates for the two at-large positions on the Town Manager Screening Committee were given the opportunity to introduce themselves to the board and explain why they would like to be on the committee.

The candidates were each given five minutes to speak with the board. Among those who applied, there are persons who have worked with town governments, spent time in talent acquisition and hiring in their professional careers, and spent as little as one to 48 years as residents of Reading.

The first candidate to share was Denise Baker, who has worked for the Massachusetts Municipal Association for twenty-five years. She emphasized that in her work, she has met and worked with hundreds of Town Managers and has a sense of who would work well in differing environments. She was followed by William Bullock, an RMLD employee who sees the relationship with the town manager as critical to his work. Next to speak was Adam Denhard. He works in the philanthropy department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and feels he could bring hiring competency and aptitude to the process.

Josh Goldlust was next. He is a software engineer who has served on several ad-hoc committees and boards in town. He feels that the town manager is the “face of the town” and that the working relationship between the town manager and the Select Board is of key importance. Andrew Gregory shared that he is a mechanical engineer who brings perspective from having lived in several communities. He would like to see the next town manager foster a sense of unity in town. Tara Gregory is a member of the PAIR committee (Partners and Allies for Inclusive Reading) who has worked with current Town Manager Fidel Maltez on several projects. She feels that this experience would guide her in evaluating candidates for the position.

Christopher Messing has twenty-four years of experience in recruiting and helping hire executive leaders in the private sector. He shared that he would be a good fit as he knows what it takes to make a search run successfully. Kevin Leete spoke after Messing. He applied for the screening committee two years ago and has over 20 years of experience in the staffing industry. He stated that he has interviewed “tens of thousands of candidates for thousands of positions.” Leete is a member of the Recreation Committee.

Next was Sherilla Lestrade, a Town Meeting member who also applied for the Screening Committee two years ago. She has been associated with Reading for twenty years as a METCO parent who moved to Reading three years ago. She has served on the Human Relations Advisory Committee and is an employee of the school department. Shana Lyons works for Adobe Software and has interviewed multiple candidates for executive positions. She shared that she is trained in quantitative hiring methods and wishes to find a town manager who will not only promote Reading as a great place to live but also a great place to work.

Tom Mottl has lived in Reading since 1974 and came to town as an employee of TASC. He recently has been involved in the creation of the Reading Neighbors Network. He believes he has the ability to see the “softer” features of a town manager candidate, which will help them be successful. Nancy Tawadros was next, sharing that she has 20 years of experience in talent acquisition. She is a Town Meeting member who also serves on the Council of Aging. Tawadros, who volunteers providing career services for the underserved, has been instrumental in developing designer evaluative interview processes. 

The final candidate to speak was Megan Young. She spent ten years on the Economic Development Committee, is a former Town Meeting member, and has 20 years of experience in talent development and leadership. She hopes to be able to translate what the Select Board is looking for in a candidate and help “keep someone long-term” in the role. After all the candidates spoke, Select Board member Christopher Haley stated that he was impressed by the qualifications of the candidates and indicated that the board “has a hard decision to make.”

Select Board chair Jackie McCarthy also thanked everyone who applied. “How fortunate we are to have this group . . who are willing to put their hand up and lend their talent; that’s the most valuable thing we have,” McCarthy stated.

The Select Board will vote to appoint up to two candidates at its next meeting on Tuesday, December 5. The two at-large members will join McCarthy, Select Board member Mark Dockser, Moderator Alan Foulds, Police Chief David Clark, and Library Director Amy Lannon on the Screening Committee.

The Select Board adjourned at 8:30 pm.

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