Lafourche Council appoints Community Action Director; Advisory Board Members Speak Out against Choice
At their regular meeting last night, Lafourche Parish Council members unanimously passed a resolution to approve the recommendation from the Lafourche Parish Community Action Advisory Board, Deyarn Gasery, for the position of Community Action Executive Director — even though Advisory Board members spoke out against the recommendation prior to the vote.
“Now, I like Deyarn, but I don’t think she’s ready for this job,” said Sylvester Spears, Advisory Board member. “I know her very, very well. She’s been with Head Start for a number of years [and] does an excellent job with Head Start. But I feel as though this is a little bit beyond her.”
Spears suggested that Stacy Savoy, interim executive director, should be chosen for the job.
“Ms.Stacy has been doing a wonderful job; plus, she’s been taking care of two entities: [Child/Adult Care Food Program] as well as executive director,” he said. “I know it’s Black History Month, but we don’t want to go back. Let’s go forward.”
Councilman Jerry Jones came to the defense of the nominee: “Ms. Gasery worked in Community Action before, and she did an excellent interview.”
Jones also noted the Board chose Gasery at the meeting the night before.
Councilman Michael Gros also spoke up in support of the recommendation.
“We have to support the Board…We have to trust their opinion,” he said. “You spoke highly of [Gasery]…So why wouldn’t she be good at this when everybody deserves a chance?”
Gros also commended the efforts of Savoy during her time as interim director.
The selection process was called to question not only by Spears but also Barbara Hill, another Advisory Board member who addressed the council and supported Savoy.
“The Advisory Board was called together, thinking that it was a regular meeting. They did have on the agenda about the Community Action Director, but we knew nothing,” she said. “I know we are advising; we’re not the final word. But we didn’t have any input. We didn’t have any other information other than the agenda…”
Spears said it “looked like” there was a meeting just before the Advisory Board met on Monday night.
Jones addressed those concerns, saying there was indeed a meeting before, but it was a Personnel Committee meeting — which he emphasized was legal — during which, the Committee chose to recommend Gasery to the Board.
Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson III also gave comments on the selection, explaining how it was a “clear” and “transparent” interview process with Lafourche Director of Human Resources Savonye’ Townsend present.
“They all got the same questions; they all had the same amount of time,” he continued.
Gasery later addressed the Council.
“I just want to say thank you for considering me for this position, and I want to be able to move the organization forward and be progressive in it,” she said. “And I look forward to working with each and every one of y’all.”
After the meeting, Chaisson talked to the Times about the decision.
“I put my faith in the Committee and the Advisory Board,” he said. “They made a decision, and while it wasn’t completely unanimous, I think Deyarn was, out of the four or five we interviewed, one of those standout candidates. And I believe she’s truly going to do a good job for the agency.”