LAKEWOOD RANCH -- District supervisors voted unanimously Thursday to select Anne L. Ross as executive director of the Lakewood Ranch Inter-District Authority, replacing Eva Rey.
Ross, assistant town manager of Longboat Key, is an East Manatee resident. Her knowledge of Manatee-Sarasota, and her familiarity with Lakewood Ranch were all factors in her selection. Supervisors also cited her background as a civil engineer and local government official, her communication skills, and her customer-friendly approach.
Randy Vosburg, assistant county administrator for Highlands County, was the other finalist. Supervisors praised Vosburg for his skill set and strategic planning strengths, and said either of the finalists would have been a worthy successor to Rey.
"One of the biggest challenges will be filling Eva's shoes," said a happy Ross after her selection.
Rey built her reputation at Lakewood Ranch on customer service and on team-building at town hall.
Rey will stay on as executive director until Oct. 16.
Steve Zielinski, chief financial officer for Lakewood Ranch, will serve as interim executive director until Ross comes on board the first week of November.
Inter-District Authority supervisors authorized chairman Tom Green to enter contract negotiations with Ross and bring the contract to next week's district meeting for approval.
The executive director's job was advertised to pay between $120,000 and $160,000, and Ross will likely be offered a contract in the midrange. Rey was making $136,500 after being on the job for four years.
Ross is the same age as the median age at Lakewood Ranch: 43.
Supervisors will be looking to her to be a change agent as Lakewood Ranch grows, and perhaps look at incorporation again at some point in the future.
"I want to take what I have learned and use that for the community," Ross said. "In this job, I can use those talents for the community I live in. I want to see Lakewood Ranch succeed."
Coming into the job, Ross, and the other finalist, Vosburg, understood that Lakewood Ranch residents have very high expectations, and that running Town Hall is a complex operation, Green said.
Ross served as assistant town manager of Longboat Key since 2012, as town engineer from 2007 and 2012, and as public works technical manager from 2004-2007.
She worked as a professional engineer in the private sector between 1997 and 2004. Ross is a graduate of the University of West Virginia.
Among those writing letters of recommendation on her behalf were State Rep. Ray Pilon, Longboat Key Town Manager David Bullock, and John Osborne, Manatee County planning official.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter@jajones1.