Welcome, Ms. Manager

Congrats to Orange County for doing what no other government in the county has accomplished: hiring a woman as the top executive.

Here are stories in the Chapel Hill Herald and Daily Tar Heel, and here's the full press release from the county:

The Orange County Board of Commissioners has agreed to hire Laura Blackmon as the next Orange County Manager. Ms. Blackmon comes to Orange County from Osceola County, Florida, where she has served as assistant, deputy, or acting county manager since 2001.

Ms. Blackmon is an Alabama native and has a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Political Science/Public Administration from the University of Florida at Gainesville. She began her professional career as a high school Social Studies teacher before entering government administration.

She is married to Jerry Walters and she is 53 years old.

Chair Barry Jacobs said: “We're thrilled to hire as our manager a person of Laura Blackmon's qualifications. She is highly skilled, service-oriented and people friendly. She promises to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to Orange County government. As Orange County's first female manager, her presence also reflects the diversity that makes our government and our community special.”

Vice Chair Steve Halkiotis said, “ It is very exciting to have a person of Laura Blackmon's integrity and skillset coming to Orange County to serve as our first female County Manager.”

Ms. Blackmon succeeds John Link, who served as Orange County manager for more than 18 years. Link announced his retirement on February 6, and stepped down on August 31, 2006. Assistant County Manager Rod Visser has served as interim manager since that time, and will remain in that capacity until Blackmon starts work on November 30.

“I am delighted that Laura Blackmon will be joining us, and confident that she will be a great asset to Orange County,” Commissioner Gordon said.

The Commissioners hired The Mercer Group Inc. as the consultant for the manager's search process and conducted a national search that drew 90 applicants from across the country.

Ms. Blackmon's starting salary will be $135,000.

The vote to appoint Ms. Blackmon was unanimous.



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