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City to begin interviews on BSD director opening

In-person interviews of some candidates for the now-vacant position of Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) Executive Director are now scheduled for next Monday, April 8, as part of a projected plan that includes further interviews the following week and then presentation of two finalists to the governing board of the BSD at its May 2 meeting.


Thirty-four candidates applied by the Friday, March 29 application deadline for the post that has been vacant since early February after what is being termed a “separation of employment” for Cristina Sheppard-Decius, who had held the position since she was approved by the BSD board on September 1 of 2022. City officials and BSD governing board members have not offered reasons for the separation, although unconfirmed reports suggest that there were conflicts with Sheppard-Decius and both city and BSD officials.


There have been three different BSD directors in recent years.


The city’s human resources department handled the initial vetting of the candidate field and members of the BSD board have reportedly also volunteered to be part of the review process as the field was trimmed to five finalists for the position.


Although the Thursday, April 4, BSD board meeting agenda packet indicated the five applicants would be interviewed next Monday, Birmingham Assistant City Manager Melissa Fairbairn, who is serving an interim director of the BSD, told the board that only four would now be interviewed because one applicant has basically withdrawn because the applicant was looking for more of a “hybrid” director position, working remotely and in the office.


Birmingham City Manager Jana Ecker, in attendance at this week’s BSD meeting, said that the plan was for the two finalists for the position to be interviewed by the BSD governing board at a public meeting and that there may be “privacy” issues preventing the semi-finalists from being interviewed in an open meeting, likely having to do with current employment of those seeking the director post.


The BSD is funded through a special assessment on all commercial, non-residential property in areas of downtown and other business districts of Birmingham. The executive director works with merchants, business owners, retailers, landlords, and commercial real estate brokers.

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