NORD Commission Selects New CEO

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission approved Larry Barabino, Jr. as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at a commission meeting at City Hall in Council Chambers. The NORDC Executive Search Committee voted unanimously to recommend Barabino after a three-month search that included nearly 100 applicants and three finalists. The announcement was made in a press release from the City of New Orleans.

“It is always about the residents of the city of New Orleans. As Mayor of this City, I’m looking for exactly what our people have asked for: a leader who can step up to provide services to not only our children but to all of the customers who use NORDC, from the programming to the facilities, you name it. And I am looking for us to embrace all that’s good, make it great, and make improvements where we know they can be made. I’m confident with the selection process. I stand by it, I stand by the vote this commission has made, and I stand by Mr. Barabino, making sure, sir, you have the tools you need to be effective. … I look forward to working with you to provide services that you know our city needs and our people need. Welcome back,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell, a NORDC board member.

Barabino will oversee a budget of $13 million, with 131 full-time and 117 part time staffers managing parks and facilities that serve 392,000 residents across New Orleans.

Among his top priorities will be filling several open NORD positions, including Chief Programming Officer and Aquatics Director. His previous experience includes having served as NORD CEO from 2006 to 2009, helping NORD recover from Hurricane Katrina. Under his leadership, NORD reopened 90 playgrounds or play spots and 10 swimming pools, and began 23 construction projects. Barabino returns to NORD leadership from the Housing Authority of New Orleans, where he manages a program for women- and minority-owned businesses. He is expected to take the helm at NORD on Dec. 17, 2018.

Barabino pledged to improve facilities management and upkeep, engage leaders in the community, recruit more volunteer coaches, and improve programming. In his interview before the search committee, he stressed the value of volunteer coaches as mentors.

"I want to thank the CEO search committee as well as the NORD Commission for a transparent process. I am beyond honored and blessed to receive the opportunity to serve as CEO and look forward to working with mayor Cantrell, NORDC, the NORD Foundation, elected officials and most importantly the community stakeholders and members to bring NORD to new heights,” Barabino said.

“It was important to me as Chair of this Commission to ensure that we maintained a very transparent and engaged process that let the public know that they have a voice. Through numerous public engagements, the staff and stakeholders framed the characteristics of the new CEO. They told us what they wanted and that remained our focus throughout this process. We believe that Larry Barabino embodies the job description and look forward to working with him to raise the bar at NORD,” NORDC chair Brian Egana said.

“The NORD Foundation is pleased to welcome Mr. Barabino. We have a wealth of both existing and potential supporters and funders who have been patiently waiting through our recent transition. Mr. Barabino’s background will allow him to hit the ground running and assure that we can bring corporate and private funding to much-needed programming such as youth athletics, Fit NOLA exercise classes and swimming, which are all available at no cost to New Orleans children and families,” NORD Foundation chair Louis Lauricella said.

"I'm excited about the selection of Larry Barabino, Jr. as the CEO of NORDC. He has experience in leading the recreation agency. I'm looking forward to working with him as he strengthens programs that provide recreation for the well-being of the citizens of New Orleans," said City Council District E member Cyndi Nguyen, a NORDC board member.

The NORD Commission Executive Search Committee began the process in late July and through a series of public meetings and listening sessions crafted a job description that described the search as seeking a collaborative visionary with strong communications skills and a heart for New Orleans to serve as the next chief executive officer.

A total of six public meetings were held, including the four listening sessions and a two-hour public forum with the three finalists.  Throughout the listening sessions, generally both staff and the public indicated that they are eager for the next CEO to come in and move NORD forward. Under the new leadership, the department will work to reconnect with communities, re-engage the youth and families, raise the standard on the upkeep of the facilities, and offer new and innovative programs for youth, for adults, seniors and special-needs participants.

In August, the search committee tapped AMcorp International in partnership with Thomas Consulting Group to orchestrate the search process. The firm used the job description to rank and score the initial field of 98 applications down to a pool of 29 candidates.  The search committee then selected the top fifteen candidates to advance to phone interviews as semifinalists. On Nov. 7, the search committee selected three New Orleans natives — Barabino, Gavin C. Lewis, Sr., and Corey K. Wilson, J.D. — to advance to final interviews.

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