2017-10-19 / Front Page

Kosor Chosen As New DDA Director

By Kevin R. Hess

Renee Kosor of Granger, Indiana, has been offered the position of director of the St. Ignace Downtown Development Authority (DDA). Ms. Kosor was one of three candidates interviewed by the DDA board Friday, October 6, and was unanimously recommended for the position to the St. Ignace City Council at its meeting Monday, October 16. Earlier this year, Ms. Kosor had also applied and was interviewed for the position of St. Ignace City Manager. Mayor Connie Litzner had the opportunity to be part of both interviews and is “very impressed” with Ms. Kosor.

“Renee has a very diverse resume and a lot of experience,” said Mrs. Litzner. “I was impressed with her when she interviewed for the city manager position and I’m excited that we are getting her for the DDA. I think she will be a good fit for that position and that her and [new city manager] Michael [Stelmaszek] will make a good team. Both have a lot of experience writing grants and I think their personalities will mesh well together.”

Ms. Kosor will replace current director Deb Evashevski upon her retirement at the end of 2017.

The DDA board received 14 applications and narrowed the field to three candidates. Joining Ms. Kosor were Wanda Norman of Pontiac, and Ted Valley of Mount Morris. Each candidate was asked a series of questions and then given the opportunity to ask their own questions of the board. Each interview was allotted 45 minutes. The candidates interviewed before the DDA board, as well as Mrs. Evashevski and Museum of Ojibwa Culture manager Shirley Sorrels. The candidates were scored from 1-5 on their responses to 14 ques- tions. The board reviewed the scores at their regular meeting Friday, October 13. Ms. Kosor was the highest scoring candidate on eight of the nine interview score sheets and the second highest on one. Mr. Valley was the highest scoring candidate on one sheet, and third on the remaining eight. Mrs. Norman scored as the second highest on eight sheets and third on one sheet. All three candidates are strong and well qualified, said Mrs. Evashevski. The board unanimously approved the recommendation of Ms. Kosor as the hire for the position. In the opinion of the DDA board, Ms. Kosor’s experience with grant writing was one of the factors that set her apart from the other two candidates.

DDA Chairman Jim North said the board was looking for someone with technical ability and proficiency in writing, forms preparation, and obtaining grants. Experience managing large budgets was also of particular interest to the board. Mr. North was pleased with the process and said that any of the three candidates would have been a good hire.

“We felt all the candidates were solid and capable of doing the job,” he said. “I think it made the decision easier by having three great candidates.”

The recommendation was taken before the city council, as they are the body that must officially hire the new director.

Ms. Kosor served in the United States Navy form 1995 to 2002 as a special teams journalist and public affairs officer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies and an MBA in international business, both from Liberty University, and a PhD in human services from Walden University. She was graduated from the Defense Information School in Fort Meade, Maryland, where she studied public affairs, and print and broadcast journalism.

Ms. Kosor grew up in Houghton Lake and worked on Mackinac Island as a teenager. She has experience in public affairs, interagency collaboration, fundraising, budgeting, media marketing, and has applied for approximately 30 grants. She also worked for 14 years with Metamorphosis, a company she founded for financial, operations, and organizational development consulting. She is a visiting lecturer for public and professional speaking at Arkansas Tech University and an adjunct professor of public speaking at Indiana University, South Bend.

Mrs. Norman is from Pontiac and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Baker College in Auburn Hills and a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Eastern Michigan University. She worked as a vehicle planner for Chrysler Group for 20 years and as a build planner for Roush Industries, contracted to Ford Motor Company. She served as a DDA and Main Street promotions committee member with the city of Lake Orion and a volunteer coordinator at Hawk Woods Nature Center in Auburn Hills. She also served an internship with the city of Troy planning department, where she developed a working knowledge of master plans and zoning ordinances and prepared land use data reports for the Planning Commission and Zoning Board. Mrs. Norman has family in the Upper Peninsula, including a brother in Trout Lake.

Mr. Valley is from Mount Morris and serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Birch Run and Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce. He has more than 25 years of experience working in management, development, marketing, public relations, nonprofits, promotions, and events. He has worked with government entities as a registered lobbyist, meeting face to face with senators, representatives, and local units of government. Mr. Valley also founded his own business in Flint in 1997, a theater, marketing, events promotion, and public relations company, which produced theatrical shows, performances, and marketing campaigns. He ran the company until December 2016. He has served on various city committees and local government boards. He earned a degree in business administration from Baker Junior College and management of human resources from Spring Arbor College.

Ms. Kosor will formally be offered the position pending a clean background check. The forms were filed late last week and St. Ignace Police Chief Mark Wilk said it would take up to 10 days for the results to return. Ms. Kosor would begin her employment December 4, and she and Mrs. Evashevski would work together for the remainder of the month. Mrs. Evashevski noted that she will still be in town after her retirement and would make herself available any way she could to help the new director transition into the role.

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