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New city department leaders to start; search continues for finance head

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    New Chief Information Officer for the City of Toledo Anne Bennett speaks Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at One Government Center in downtown Toledo. She was appointed by Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.

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    Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, left, introduces three new city department heads including the new Director of Neighborhoods and Business Development Amy Sackman Odum, center, and the new Chief of Fire and Rescue, current Battalion Chief Brian Byrd, right, Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at One Government Center in downtown Toledo. Anne Bennett was also named the new Chief Information Officer for the City of Toledo.

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    Chief Information Officer for the City of Toledo Anne Bennett is pictured Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at One Government Center in downtown Toledo. She was appointed by Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.

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    Director of Neighborhoods and Business Development Amy Sackman Odum is pictured Tuesday, July 24, 2018, at One Government Center in downtown Toledo. She was appointed by Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz.

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Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz announced new directors of neighborhoods and information technology last week, but the city is still without a finance director almost seven months into his administration.

It’s the last director-level position the mayor needs to fill.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he had settled on a preferred candidate after an extensive search, and offered the position to the man from Annapolis, but he declined the offer.

“He was someone who I was very excited about,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. “It came down to Toledo and some other place, and he chose some other place.”

Toledo City Council in January approved a $75,000 contract with Toledo-based Waverly Partners LLC to recruit candidates for the neighborhoods, information technology, and finance director positions. The city will continue to work with the firm to search for a new finance director.

“We’re going to take the time to find someone excellent,” the mayor said.

RELATED: Mayor Kapszukiewicz selects Byrd as Toledo fire chief

The mayor appointed two female Toledo natives to lead the information technology department and the department of neighborhoods and business development.

Amy Sackman Odum, 58, started her post Monday. She’ll lead the newly combined departments of neighborhoods and economic and business development and be paid $105,000 annually.

Ms. Odum worked as the city of Lima’s director of community development from 2004 to 2016, and has since been running her own firm focused on neighborhood development.

Ms. Odum said she has more than 23 yeas of experience in neighborhood and community development. She also has an understanding of federal Community Development Block Grant funds, which will be key as city council and the Kapszukiewicz administration re-evaluate how the city distributes those funds to area nonprofits.

“I am really excited that Toledo is recognizing the relationship between quality neighborhoods mean quality jobs and quality employment opportunities,” Ms. Odum said. “I’m looking forward to begin to work with the staff here and bring together the best of Toledo’s heritage and culture and move it into the future.”

Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he combined the departments of neighborhoods and economic and business development because he believes the two go hand-in-hand.

“The core of our community is seeing a rebirth that it hasn’t seen in maybe 40 years, and that’s great, and I know it’s going to continue,” he said. “But I don’t think Toledo is truly going to take the next step to being the city we all want it to be until that economic activity and energy makes its way into the neighborhoods as well.”

Anne Bennett, 54, starts as Toledo’s new chief information officer Aug. 16 and will be paid an annual salary of $110,000.

Ms. Bennett supervised the Toledo Museum of Art’s information technology from 2013 to 2017 and is now a consultant with the firm Great Lakes Information Architects. Before that, she was chief information officer for The Andersons Inc. for six years.

She said she plans to spend her first 90 days on the job assessing the IT needs of both the city and the people the government serves.

“The city has a successful IT operation, and my job is really to make it the best that it can be,” Ms. Bennett said. “When you look at your priorities in information technology, the top of that is security and reliability.”

Mr. Kapszukiewicz lauded Ms. Bennett’s experience working for The Andersons, a Fortune 500 company at the time.

“Attracting talented people like Anne who knows what it means to succeed at the highest level of the private sector, to attract them into a position of leadership in city government I think sends an important message about what we’re trying to do here,” he said. “We’re trying to change a culture to demand excellence of our employees.”

City spokesman Ignazio Messina said Patty Lankey, the acting director for information communication and technology; Bonita Bonds, the acting director of neighborhoods; and Bill Burkett, the acting director of economic and business development, all will remain employed with the city.

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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