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Presbyterian Mission Agency executive director search committee reports progress

Search firm to be named, process will continue after General Assembly

by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service

Landon Whitsitt, synod executive and stated clerk for the Synod of Mid-America and chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) Board’s executive director search committee, gave the board a brief update on the committee’s progress on April 28.

Because the committee was only named by the board in September 2015, Whitsitt explained that its members had first convened at the end of January 2016, and were again with the board at its February 2016 meeting.

“The committee believes that some of the overtures coming to the General Assembly could affect our search and give us some data as to what the PMA will be and what kind of director we should seek,” Whitsitt told the board in explaining why the committee does not yet have a timeline for its work. “As [incoming PMAB chair] Ken Godshall reminded us, there are a lot of variables and trends out there that we should pay attention to.”

Whitsitt also announced the committee’s intention to appoint a search firm. “We want to take advantage of the wisdom a search firm has to identify candidates,” he said. “I will probably call upon you this summer to approve a job description.”

Outgoing PMAB member Marianne Rhebergen, transitional leader for Palisades Presbytery and a member of the PMAB nominating and governance subcommittee, made the motion “to clarify the election of ex officio members of the Search Committee for the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency to include the incoming Chair of the Board and the Moderator of the 222nd GA (2016).” The motion was approved.

PMAB vice chair Jo Stewart asked Whitsitt when the committee expected to have a timeline for the process.

“Once we meet this summer and get more data,” Whitsitt responded, “we will have a plan worked out and be able to have a timeline after that. We don’t want to rush. I would add we’re not waiting until the next General Assembly, but, again, we don’t want to rush. As soon as I have specificity, I’ll make sure that the board has it.”

After assuring the board that he would again be reporting back in September, he addressed interim executive director Tony De La Rosa, saying, “Tony, sit tight; don’t go anywhere.”

PMAB member Molly Baskin, incoming chair of the finance committee who is in the search business, said that the first thing she did as former chair of Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program’s board was to run a search process.

“It takes longer than you think it’s going to,” said Baskin. “Hire a search firm. I’m happy to talk with you all if you’re interested.”

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