Historic Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The Downtown Long Beach Alliance is set to begin its search for a new president.

The organization’s Board of Directors voted during its Wednesday meeting to create a nine-member search committee that will be tasked with finding a replacement for longtime president and CEO Kraig Kojian, who, according to the DLBA, “agreed to part ways” with the organization last month after 25 years. His departure came amid a DLBA-led investigation into Kojian for alleged mistreatment of employees.

The search committee will include Bixby Knolls Improvement Association Executive Director Blair Cohn, Studio One Eleven Senior Principal Alan Pullman, Long Beach Assistant City Manager Linda Tatum, Waterford Property Company Co-Founder Sean Rawson, Downtown resident and Executive Committee Member Denise Carter, Linc Housing President and Chief Operating Officer Suny Lay Chang, Pacific Ocean Management/Shoreline Village Enterprises General Manager Debra Fixen, Lee & Associates Senior Associate Graham Gill and Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Steve Goodling.

Pullman, who was the immediate past chair of the DLBA’s Executive Committee, and Fixen, who is the incoming chair of the same group, will serve as co-chairs for the search committee.

Loara Cadavona, current chair of the DLBA’s Executive Committee, said Wednesday that the composition of the search committee was decided with the help of human resources consultants, who recommended an odd number of members—and no more than nine, “and that really allows us to be nimble in our process,” she said.

“It’s really important that the membership reflects the organization,” Cadavona said of the search committee, which includes “being diverse in many different ways—area of expertise, in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, the breadth of experience they have in executive searches, etc.”

Now that the board has approved the committee, the real work of finding a new leader for the nonprofit, which supports Downtown Long Beach businesses and manages two business improvement districts in the neighborhood, begins.

Cadavona said it’s still unclear whether the DLBA will hire a recruiter.

“We’re going to be looking at what budget might be available to put towards hiring a recruiter,” she said, “and so that’s one of the first kind of decisions the search committee is going to make. Ideally, it would be great to have a recruiter, but we want to see what dollars would be available to spend.”

Another task for the search committee will include “building up an executive profile” that will include the desired characteristics in a new president. The panel will likely hold a listening session in the process of creating that profile, Cadavona said.

As far as the timeline is concerned, Cadavona said that her understanding is that “at this level of recruitment, we should expect around a six-month period of time. It could be less, it could be more, but roughly six months.”

While she acknowledged the weight of choosing a new president, Cadavona said she was nonetheless glad to be moving forward.

“I know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” she said, “but it is just going to be really exciting to get this committee up and going after the first of the year.”

Michael Berman, a spokesman for the DLBA, reiterated that message in a phone interview. Berman pointed to the organization’s strong financial footing, a new strategic plan and ongoing programs to support businesses through the economic recovery, like the new “One Downtown” initiative that’s offering grants, event sponsorships, beautification efforts and more.

“We have a really strong foundation,” Berman said. “Yes, there’s going to be a change in leadership, obviously, but we have a strong foundation in place, and I think the takeaway at this point is that we believe the best is yet to come for the DLBA.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with more information from the DLBA.

Hayley Munguia

Hayley Munguia is editor of the Long Beach Business Journal.

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