The First Step Shelter board has begun the interviewing process.
Three candidates have dropped from the hiring process to become the First Step Shelter's executive director, with the remaining four being interviewed by the homeless shelter's board of directors on Tuesday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 9.
The people vying for the position are Michael Payne, a Faith in Florida grant administrator from Riviera Beach, Mary Flynn Boener, a former licensed clinical social worker with Florida Health Care Plans, Mark Geallis, the former executive director of Halifax Urban Ministries, and Greg Knackstedt, a former executive of a Philadelphia nonprofit who resides in Pennsylvania. Knackstedt is the only out-of-state candidate.
On Tuesday, the board interviewed Payne and Boener. Payne's interview was conducted via Skype due to a last-minute scheduling conflict on his part. Payne talked about his 25 years in non-profit and government experience, as well as how he could implement his background as a community pastor and outreach into the job.
Board Member Mike Panaggio said they were looking for someone who could write grants, be out in the community to raise funds and at the same time be an educator for homelessness.
"This is about educating an entire community and it's going to take presentations," Panaggio said.
In his powerpoint presentation to the First Step Shelter board, Payne said he had "a proven track record as a grant writer and revenue development professional," something the board asked both candidates about since First Step Shelter may not always rely on city financial support.
During her interview, Boener spoke about her 30 years of experience as a social worker, and how much of her work has focused around the local opioid crisis. Boener has spent the last 12 years in Volusia County and relayed her experience of working with the homeless for the last three decades.
Boener was also asked about her grant writing experience. When asked by Panaggio if she understood that this was not a full-time job, that it would require a lot of time on her part, Boener said that as mom that got her Ph.D. while working full-time and staying active in her children's band activities, she could handle this. This job is the reason she didn't renew her contract with Florida Health Care Plans, she said.
He also asked if she had any reservations going after funding.
“I have no problem asking," Boener said. "I have been doing it for years, especially if I believe in something.”
The board will make a decision on May 15 at its meeting.