County Appoints Director of Economic Development, First Woman and African American to Hold Position | Business Observer
CLEARWATER – Cynthia Johnson has been appointed Director of Economic Development for Pinellas County, the first woman and the first African American to hold the post.
Johnson, who got the job after a nationwide search, is a familiar face in county offices and boardrooms. She joined the department 20 years ago and most recently served as Director of Small Business and Supplier Diversity. In that role, she increased the involvement of local suppliers and redesigned the program for small businesses, according to the county.
She has also served as the Director of the Florida Small Business Development Office for Pinellas since 2010, overseeing programs aimed at retention, increasing capital investment, and opportunities for expansion and diversification.
A spokeswoman for the department said there had been a nationwide recruiting effort after former department director Mike Meidel retired in April. After the initial interviews, the finalists were chosen and met with the County Economic Development Board and staff members. The final nominees were then interviewed by a committee of county business and community leaders, who shared their comments with county administrator Barry A. Burton.
Burton made the final decision.
In a statement, Burton called Johnson a leader who will help “continue to expand our presence in economic development.”
“Cynthia’s vast experience, her passion for public service and her success in building relationships in our community are proven assets to our economic development department,” he says.
Johnson started on Tuesday, September 7, succeeding Meidel who had held the position since 2004.
She received a PhD in Educational Leadership and an MA in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
In the statement, Johnson says she wants to “advance our global competitiveness by continuing to build a strong and diverse economy, a talented workforce and resilient communities.”
The department spokeswoman did not disclose Johnson’s salary or age.