After two months of accepting and sorting through applicants, the Houston Heights Association is moving closer to hiring an executive director for the neighborhood. And response to the newly created position has been positively boggling.
According to Bill Baldwin, president of HHA, his organization received 443 applications for the position that was first posted in mid-April. From that, Baldwin and the board selected 15 semi-finalists and have conducted a series of interviews with them.
And this month, HHA plans to narrow that list to 6-8 finalists and conduct one more round of interviews before making a job offer at the beginning of August.
“Overall, the caliber and volume of candidates have been exceptional,” said Baldwin, who has served concurrent terms as president of HHA and has been on the board for 12 years. “It’s been exciting to see both the sort of experienced professionals in other areas who have been interested in focusing their abilities on the Heights, and what sort of talent and experience we have, quite literally, living here in the neighborhood.”
According to Baldwin, HHA has received applications from people who work for regional non-profits, local governments and educational institutions, among many others.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the response, and this has certainly not been an easy undertaking to narrow it down to where we are now, and we understand it is going to be painstaking as we decide on the ultimate best fit,” Baldwin said. “This will be a turning point for our neighborhood.”
The executive director position, new to the HHA and unique to this area of the city, will manage nearly every issue important to a neighborhood the size of the Heights. From finances and operations, directing fundraisers and special events, to communicating with neighbors and serving as a liaison between homeowners and government agencies, this job will look a lot like a city manager.
According to the job posting, the position will pay anywhere between $62,500-$90,000+, and the salary will be commensurate with experience.
According to Baldwin, the dynamic of neighborhood association volunteerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The generation that oversaw the rebirth of the Heights is now older, but a decade ago, they didn’t have children at home and they were able to give more time to the neighborhood.
“We used to have five board positions and have 10 people running for them,” he said.
“Now we have five positions and we’re begging people to fill the last two.”
Baldwin doesn’t blame the shift in priorities, but he and the HHA board agreed last year that better management of the neighborhood association was a must. And as Baldwin serves out his last few months as president, he said it was necessary to develop a strategy for maintaining the integrity of the neighborhood. It’s so necessary, in fact, that the HHA has decided to invest in this position, dipping into its reserves to pay the salary.
“We believe that with the right person, we can raise the profile of the neighborhood,” Baldwin said.
According to the job posting, “The ideal candidate is motivated by neighborhood preservation and a strong spirit of community engagement. An exceptional candidate is also very familiar with Houston Heights.”