Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Stuart Mease Leaving Roanoke Government Job
(Update: Stuart Mease said Wednesday his new employer will be Rackspace in Blacksburg.)
Roanoke is getting ready to lose a guy who has had an almost thunderous impact in the last 3 1/2 years since City Manager Darlene Burcham created a job for him. Stuart Mease, who has been Special Projects Director and has made the city safe for young people in suits, is leaving the job for some vague and unspecified position "in private industry," he said just a few minutes ago when I ran into him on Roanoke City Market.
Stuart, the father of a baby girl, never moved from Blacksburg to Roanoke and the daily 40-miles each way commute--with a young family--has become a bit much for the entire family. His is going to be a big loss and it comes as the city is still trying to replace his immediate supervisor, Brian Brown, who left as economic development director a few months ago to go with a security firm in Botetourt County. The department has seven employees.
One of Stuart's primary charges was to recruit and retain young workers, something cities across the country have targeted as a priority. Cities across the country, didn't have Stuart Mease, who approached his job like a sports promoter. His enthusiasm, warmth and detailed knowledge of both the workers and the jobs has been an enormous benefit to the entire Roanoke and New River Valleys. Stuart often worked with NewVa Corridor Technology Council Director Cory Donovan in creating a kind of excitement about working in this area that I'd never seen before.
Stuart jumped all over social media and created the blog "Connecting People" (where the announcement of his resignation was first made) which did just that. He has been a superb contact for anything we were doing at The FRONT that had to do with younger workers. He was not only a wealth of background information, but it sometimes appeared to me that he knew every worker in the region younger than 30--and he liked every one of them.
I suspect that when Darlene Burcham created Stuart's job, she had him in mind to fill it. He's that rare. I'm personally and professionally sorry to see him to go. My guess is that his job may be the hardest of all the city's vacancies to fill with his level of competence.