Newark Alliance CEO Aisha Glover said she is planning on heading home from her first Walk to Washington early Friday morning. She’s eager to begin a process she is confident will produce another top economic development leader for the city of Newark.
Glover and Ommeed Sathe, vice president, impact investments for Prudential Financial, are heading a task force to find the next director of the Department of Economic and Housing Development for Newark, a deputy mayor position.
“I think this is amazing opportunity for the city, as we are at this pivotal point of growth and development, to really think strategically about who is at the helm,” Glover told ROI-NJ.
“There are a lot of cities that are doing great work across the country. There are a lot of like-minded and ideologically aligned individuals across the country that would be a great fit for the city of Newark. So, I think we have a kind of golden moment right now.”
One Glover said she doesn’t want to miss.
The task force was created, she said, to ensure that candidates that may not have otherwise been identified get a look.
Glover said there are some inherent advantages to finding someone in the area or the Northeast, but that the group will consider this a national search.
“I think we could go across the country and point to a handful of cities that are doing some really progressive work and have some great talent,” she said.
“For sure, we want to focus on the New York City metropolitan area. There’s a lot of benefit for folks who are familiar with the state and familiar with the city. But, to the same end, I think there’s a lot of benefit around looking beyond and considering a national search.
“Many urban communities have similarities. So, I think if we find talent that has experience working within an urban environment, advancing economic development, thinking about it from a kind of community wealth-building perspective, that we’d be all over that, too.”
The key, Glover said, is finding the right fit.
“Part of the thinking of the task force is to make sure that we’re casting as broad of a net as possible and really tapping into folks that know this work and know it well,” she said. “But, also, honestly, we need to be really sensitive to the fact that this is not just any other economic development position.
“It’s important that you’re coming at it from a community development and economic development perspective, and that’s not the easiest thing to find.
“Usually, folks fall clearly into one bucket and there aren’t as many people that are able to navigate both. And both are equally critical in the city right now.”
It’s unclear how big the task force will be. And Glover stressed that the task force will be searching for more than just a new director. Glover said it will represent an opportunity to review all of the city’s economic development programs and processes.
“We’ll be trying to work to identify where there could be greater efficiencies within the department,” she said. “We’ve all been working with the department and with city hall and in different ways and I think (Mayor Ras Baraka) recognizes that there is an opportunity for just greater efficiencies for us to really be running a world-class economic development department.”
Glover said she’s eager to get going.
“We will have our first brainstorming meeting and develop the scope and our initial thoughts around an outreach plan,” she said. “Right now, it’s just Ommeed and I spearheading it, but we have to identify who we want to be in the task force, both inside city hall and outside city hall.
“That’s the first meeting: Let’s start planning for this and figure out what it could potentially look like.”
The new position will replace the retiring John Palmieri. His last day was Thursday.