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The Little Rock housing authority board appointed a new interim director Monday as it nears the end of a search for a leader for the agency.

Anthony Snell, deputy executive director of real estate, replaces Marshall Nash as interim director of the Metropolitan Housing Alliance. Nash resigned abruptly Friday. He was appointed in November after the resignation of then-Executive Director Rodney Forte. Nash had been the agency's human resources director.

Chairman Leta Anthony also announced Monday that R.M. Jackson, one of three candidates for the executive director position, found another job and was no longer a contender for the spot. That leaves Nadine Jarmon of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Kimberly Adams of Houston in the running.

During the meeting, Anthony said that the goal was to have a new executive director by May 1, but that a couple of issues had come up in the selection process that needed to be addressed, so it could be longer.

"But at this point, we will function as we are until such time as this piece can be settled with Mr. Snell here kind of lead[ing] the ship as the senior staff," she said during the meeting. "And everybody, as they say, govern yourselves accordingly in the work that you're doing, and we will get you some relief as soon as we possibly can from the board's standpoint."

The board will need to find a new human resources director as well, she said.

"I'm just honored that the board has enough confidence in me to lead the agency through this transition," Snell said in a later interview.

The search for a new executive director began shortly after Forte resigned Nov. 7 to join the private sector. He had asked to stay on until Jan. 31, but board members pushed him out that day and named Nash interim director.

In December, Nash terminated Dana Arnette, a deputy executive director and the chief operating officer for the housing authority. Her personnel file doesn't note the reason for her dismissal.

Nash hand-delivered his four-sentence letter of resignation on Friday, which Anthony described as "impromptu."

"Thank you for the opportunity to serve during this transitional time period," the letter says. "I believe that you are very close or have arrived at your decision on the new Executive Director for the Agency. Therefore, having bridged the gap between leaders, I am resigning my post effective immediately."

Nash started working at the agency in 2014.

Commissioner Monique Sanders said that Snell's seniority in the agency made him the best pick for the interim director.

"He has excellent leadership abilities and deep knowledge of the agency," Sanders said.

Commissioner Kenyon Lowe declined to comment on why Snell was chosen because the board discussed it in executive session. Such private meetings are allowed under Arkansas' public meetings law for a handful of reasons, including to discuss employment issues.

"All that was discussed in executive session, and you know that's restricted," Lowe said.

The law does not prohibit anyone from talking about the content of executive session discussions.

Board members met in private for close to seven hours on two days last week to interview candidates, saying the events were closed to the newspaper. Notification wasn't sent out as normal for the first meeting, and excluded more than 20 people usually notified, including two news outlets.

The law requires governing bodies to notify the press when scheduling a special meeting.

Public records law experts said the meetings violated the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

After the meetings, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. met with Anthony because of "transparency concerns," according to a tweet he posted online Monday.

"I have strongly urged the board and staff to ensure compliance with all FOIA laws," the tweet read. The post went on to say that he had arranged training for the board and staff with the city's attorney on the Freedom of Information Act.

"All involved in the field of public service should be accountable to the public, clear with its communications and transparent in its operations," the post read. "This is our city's standard, and we will work with our partners to ensure the same is provided."

The remaining candidates for the authority's top job both have ties to Arkansas.

Jarmon, who interviewed Friday, is the executive director for the Deerfield Beach Housing Authority. She's also worked as a contracting consultant, a monitor and board adviser for the Gary Housing Authority in Indiana, the executive director of the Road Home Corp. dba Louisiana Land Trust, and the executive director of the Housing Authority of New Orleans.

She has a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Central Arkansas, a master's in business administration from the University of Houston, and a master's in public administration and a doctorate in urban and public affairs from the University of Texas.

Adams' resume lists her as an "executive community developer," and says she lives in Houston. She worked as an assistant director for the city of Little Rock's Housing and Neighborhood Programs for less than a year before she was terminated.

Adams, who interviewed last Tuesday, also worked for the city of Houston as a staff analyst in the Housing and Community Development Department and as a grants analyst in the Department of Neighborhoods.

She has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Southern University in Baton Rouge and Texas A&M. She has a master's in business administration from Jackson State University in Mississippi, and a doctorate in urban planning and environmental policy from Texas Southern University.

Anthony Snell

Metro on 04/16/2019

Print Headline: Little Rock housing authority appoints 2nd interim leader

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