BRATTLEBORO -- A face familiar to many people in Windham County and around the state will be taking over interim leadership of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation while its board of directors searches for a new executive director.
Stephan Morse, who is currently the chairman of the State Board of Education and is a former Speaker of the Vermont House and president of the Windham Foundation, took over the job on May 12 and will work with the current executive director, Patricia Moulton Powden, until her final day on May 16.
Morse said he didn't seek out the job, but he's glad to chip in to help out.
"It came out of the blue, but it's an important thing to do in the short term so I agreed to do it."
Powden, who took over the job from Jeff Lewis at the beginning of 2014, recently announced she was heading back to Montpelier to assume the position of secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
Dan Normandeau, the president of the BDCC's board, said Morse is the perfect fit for an interim director.
"Who can we get in here to be the glue that we need and provide some high-level credibility while we do a formal search for the permanent replacement?"
Morse is a board member of the Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies and chaired its Post VY Taskforce, which assessed and reported on what impacts the closure of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant would have on the region. The report was finished less than a year before Entergy made the surprise announcement in August 2013 that it would cease operations at the plant in Vernon at the end of 2014.
"The fact that he was willing to do this is fantastic and we're very pleased to have him with us," said Normandeau.
After Lewis announced he was retiring after more than seven years at the helm, Normandeau said the board didn't conduct an official search for his replacement because Powden's name was suggested almost immediately and she expressed a desire to come to Brattleboro.
"We decided not to through the motions because we knew we were probably going to hire her anyway. This time we're going to be starting from scratch."
The board's target date to have a new executive director on board is Sept. 1, though Normandeau said that's not written in stone.
"It's less about the date than finding the right person."
Morse will be overseeing BDCC staff and operations as well as leading the search for a new executive Director. He will also be overseeing temporary project manager Tom Appel who has been brought on to keep several individual business projects Moulton was supporting on track.
This period is especially critical, said Morse, because funding from Entergy for economic development will soon be coming available.
"It's important that the two organizations -- BDCC and SeVEDS -- continue to operate at the high end and most importantly we get a new director in here. Both organizations are essential to Brattleboro as we are looking for economic growth. These will be trying times with the closing of our largest employer."
Bob Audette can be reached at email@example.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.