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VOL. 130 | NO. 238 | Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Strickland Names 6 Chiefs to Report Directly To Mayor

By Bill Dries

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Memphis Mayor-elect Jim Strickland rounded out his team of top advisers and division directors with six appointees who will report directly to him – a structural change to how previous mayoral administrations have worked.

Left to right: Douglas McGowen, Bruce McMullen, Ursula Madden, Alexandria Smith, Jim Strickland, Brian Collins, Toney Armstrong.


Strickland's six chiefs 

• Douglas McGowen, chief administrative officer
• Bruce McMullen, city attorney and chief legal officer
• Ursula Madden, chief communications officer
• Alexandria Smith, chief human resources officer
• Brian Collins, chief finance officer
• Toney Armstrong, director of police services

Douglas McGowen, the head of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team under A C Wharton as well as coordinator of the city’s sexual assault task force, is chief operating officer in Strickland’s administration – a new position.

Shortly after Wharton took office in 2009, he appointed McGowen to lead the innovation delivery team, which was funded by grants from the Bloomberg Foundation. McGowen came to that assignment after retiring from the U.S. Navy as commanding officer of the Millington Naval Support Activity base.

Strickland’s choice for city attorney and chief legal officer is Bruce McMullen, a shareholder at the Baker Donelson law firm.

McMullen has concentrated his practice in the area of municipal law as well as health care litigation, tort liability, commercial litigation and class action defense.

McMullen replaces Herman Morris in the city attorney’s position.

Alexandria Smith, a human resources professional who most recently held that position at Brightstar Device Protection and also has HR management experience at Target Corp. and Microsoft Corp., becomes the city’s chief human resources officer. She succeeds Quintin Robinson.

And Action News 5 anchor and reporter Ursula Madden is chief communications officer, succeeding Dewanna Smith.


The four new appointees join two Wharton administration veterans. Brian Collins, who currently serves as director of the finance division, will take on the new title of chief financial officer, while Toney Armstrong will maintain his title as director of police services on an interim basis.

The structure of Strickland’s administration – with the six appointees reporting directly to him – is a departure from Wharton’s setup, which included a chief administrative officer instead of a chief operating officer.

Under the CAO model, division directors report to the chief administrative officer, who manages the day-to-day affairs of city government. The CAO then takes items to the mayor, with the mayor taking on a broader policy and projects vision.

That style of leadership became a crucial issue in the 2015 mayoral race. Throughout the campaign year, Wharton was forced to deal with the aftermath of initiatives and projects he handed off to those in his inner circle only to discover later they often were not pursued in a detailed way.

“This restructuring will allow me to have a more hands-on approach in directing city government, and is aligned with my commitment to transparency,” Strickland said in a written statement.

He said making the police director a position that reports directly to the mayor is “only natural for me,” given his campaign’s emphasis on crime.

In November, Strickland announced he would appoint interim public works director Robert Knecht into that role on a permanent basis. He also announced plans to reappoint four current directors: general services division director Antonio Adams, information services director Brent Nair, libraries director Keenon McCloy, and Workforce Investment Network executive director Kevin Woods.

None of those positions is among the “chief” roles that report directly to the mayor.

Strickland has also said Memphis fire director Mike Putt, parks and neighborhoods director Janet Hooks and city engineer John Cameron would not be reappointed. He did not indicate whether that was their choice or his. Cameron had indicated soon after the Oct. 8 election that he would not seek reappointment.

Also still to come is a report by Strickland’s transition team on Dec. 16 at the University of Memphis. The team is expected to make recommendations on goals to pursue during Strickland’s tenure and how to go about meeting those goals.

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597