A decade after his first stint running recreation in New Orleans, Larry Barabino Jr. is poised to take the reins of the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission.
A seven-member selection committee voted unanimously Monday evening to recommend that Barabino lead the agency again. The full commission is expected to ratify that recommendation Tuesday evening.
Barabino was picked from a group of three finalists who emerged from a list of nearly 100 applicants to be NORDC's CEO. The position has been vacant since Vic Richard left just before Mayor LaToya Cantrell's inauguration.
Barabino was New Orleans' recreation director under former Mayor Ray Nagin from 2006 until 2009, when he left for a job at the Children's Defense Fund. He is now working for the Housing Authority of New Orleans, managing a program for women- and minority-owned businesses.
The motion to recommend Barabino was made by Office of Youth and Families Director Emily Wolff, who said the mayor sees the appointment as a step toward more community involvement in NORDC.
"The mayor sees this as the beginning and not as the end," Wolff said. "The community engagement, the importance of involving everybody — staff, program participants, coaches and volunteers — is going to become even more important."
Barabino, who attended the meeting, pledged to work closely with the commission members.
"Thank you all for your commitment," he said. "Any person selected as CEO needs the commission to work with them. And I would like to thank you all for helping to bring NORD to higher heights."
Most New Orleanians still refer to the agency as NORD, the shorthand version of its longtime name, the New Orleans Recreation Department. The agency was reorganized under Mayor Mitch Landrieu to increase the private sector's involvement and financial support.
The other finalist candidates are Gavin Lewis, a sports agent and consultant, and Corey Wilson, chief of management and business services and legal counsel for East Baton Rouge Parish’s recreation and parks department, known as BREC.
Three candidates hoping to run the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission pledged more community outreach, better maintenance of facili…
After taking office in May, Cantrell appointed Maya Wyche, then the agency's chief operating officer, to serve as interim CEO until a replacement could be found.
The commission fired Wyche in October at Cantrell's urging. The mayor did not directly explain the firing, but several employees who spoke at that meeting complained that Wyche had ignored complaints about sexual abuse at the agency.
Liana Elliott, Cantrell's deputy chief of staff, has been the acting director since then.
The full NORDC is expected to take up Barabino's appointment at a 5 p.m. meeting Tuesday in the City Council chambers at City Hall.