The search for the next leader of the Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority is winding down and the organization is inviting the public to meet and talk with the two leading candidates for the job later this month.

PARA is looking for its next Executive Director after its longtime leader Gary Minor announced in September that he would retire.

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In a Wednesday press release, PARA said it has narrowed the search down to two candidates -- Brian Davis from the City of Vestavia Hills and Sean De Palma from Panama City, Florida.

The candidates will be front and center at separate public forums held at the McDonalds Hughes Community Center later this month, featuring Davis on February 20th and De Palma on the 22nd.

Both hourlong forums are set to begin at 2 p.m.

“This is an exciting time for PARA and each of our funding partners,” said Dr. Tony Johnson, Chair of the Board of Directors. “The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership. Not only will our next executive director play a tremendously important role in environmental stewardship and promoting health and wellness, but this person will engage a large variety of stakeholders to lead and well serve the needs in our community."

The committee to find the next executive director is led by Elizabeth Winter, the vice chair of the PARA Board and Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor at Regions Bank.

The search committee includes 12 others, all community leaders and elected officials from the region.

“A multidisciplinary team of community stakeholders was organized and is committed to the process of moving PARA forward to its next exciting chapter," Winter said. “Preliminary interviews have been completed with a plan to bring top candidates to the PARA Board of Directors for the final hiring decision,” said Winter.

The two forums later this month will allow the community to meet the top candidates, hear their plans for PARA and more. Both forums are free and open to the public.

"Top-quality Park and Recreation services are our number one priority, and we appreciate the involvement of our stakeholders and residents in this important next step in PARA’s leadership," Johnson said.

PARA’s Chief Financial Officer, Mike Crady, is acting as Interim Executive Director until Minor's full-time replacement is named.

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