More staffing changes at City Hall; Reed names Phuong head of parks

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has named Amy Phuong the new commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation, the second staffing change the mayor has announced this week.

Phuong has served as the department’s interim director since former head George Dusenbury left the city last May for reasons that remain unclear. She previously served as the city’s chief service officer overseeing community service and volunteer efforts. In that role, she helped launch Reed’s Centers of Hope initiative for at-risk youth.

“Amy brings the right expertise to help the Department of Parks and Recreation meet the long-term goals of my administration,” Reed said in an issued statement. “I am confident that her experience, vision and exceptional commitment to public service will help deliver on our promise to expand best-in-class recreational opportunities and greenspace for our city’s children and families.”

The Atlanta City Council must confirm the appointment.

The announcement comes one day after Reed promoted communications deputy Melissa Mullinax to become his new senior policy advisor. Mullinax replaces Michael Sterling, who Reed recently tapped to permanently lead the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency.

Reed has yet to name replacements for former Invest Atlanta executive director Brian McGowan, who left in March to join the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and James Shelby, who suddenly retired from his post as the commissioner of the Department of Planning and Community Development in late August.

The staffing news also comes as Chief Financial Officer Jim Beard has withdrawn his interest in becoming the city manager for Coral Gables, Fla.

The Coral Gables City Commission named Beard its finalist last week, but Beard withdrew his name on Monday, citing employment negotiation conflicts with the commission.

The Miami Herald reports his withdrawal could stem from a 2004 personal bankruptcy and other legal troubles.

But Beard said this week that he pulled out of the running because the commission was not willing to sign a three-year minimum contract. Beard also said he disclosed the previous bankruptcy to the commission prior to the background review.