See u at Hollyhock in 2010! Vancouver’s new senior manager shakes a leg with Renewal Partners
In what is becoming a recurring pattern at Vancouver City Hall, we’ve just learned that the latest hire for the senior management team is yet another newcomer to the Wet Coast. What makes this hire interesting is the direct links to top donors of Vision Vancouver and Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Ryan Merkley, formerly of Mayor David Miller’s office in the City of Toronto is moving to town to become the new Director of Corporate Communications. The 30-something Merkley has worked for Miller for only a year and a half. Previously he was a political aide to Councillor Shelley Carroll, one of the many NDP members of Toronto city council.
The phrase "hiring from within" is anathema to the folks running Vancouver City Hall these days. While we reputedly have the most professional civil service in the country, Vision Vancouver have made sure that only outsiders are getting the new top postings. Starting with Penny Ballem, then Patrice Impey, Robin Adair, and then Sadhu Johnston, the pattern of hiring is pretty clear. Now we have Ryan Merkley from Toronto.
It’s increasingly becoming a sore point with staff that in spite of a citywide "hiring freeze" there still is headcount left for select top positions.
We put the little vipers in our research department to work as soon as we learned of Robin Adair’s memo to City Hall staff (posted below). Merkley apparently likes to party (and play bongo drums) with the social venture crowd. Specifically he makes company with Renewal Partners, which is the organization that has provided over $100,000 in campaign donations to Vision Vancouver.
Renewal Partners sponsors the Social Venture Institute, an annual conference for those who like to brainstorm about running social venture enterprises. The event takes place each year at – wait for it – Hollyhock on Cortes Island. Last year, however, SVI held an event in Toronto which Ryan Merkley was a presenter and, ahem, active participant.
We have to assume that no one currently living in Vancouver has the public relations qualifications needed for the job, or perhaps, that if you hang with the Renewal crowd you’ve got a serious leg up. Here’s Adair’s memo, which we note doesn’t mention the future of the person who formally held this position, Laurie Best.
Appointment of new Communications Director
As you know the position of Corporate Communications Director has been vacant for the past four months since Laurie Best assumed duties as head of the COV Website Transformation Project. Wendy Stewart, Colin Fenby and the entire Corporate Communications staff have done an outstanding job supporting Mayor and Council and senior staff on many assignments. However, in the face of the challenges and opportunities of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the arrival of over 10,000 media, it is clear that we need more help. I am therefore very pleased to announce the appointment of Ryan Merkley to the position of Director of Corporate Communications for a term of six months beginning on January 4, 2010.
I have been working with the City Manager, Olympic Operations and Communications staff in a process to identify a strong candidate for this position.
Ryan Merkley has an outstanding record of accomplishment as a communications professional. He is currently Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications and Budget in the Office of City of Toronto Mayor David Miller. He has provided long-term planning and communications support on a number of important civic projects.
I am delighted that we have found someone to work with us on the Olympic Games and the opportunities which follow in their wake. I look forward to introducing you to Ryan when he arrives in January.