The city announced Friday afternoon that Snapper Poche, Program Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, and John Fournier, Assistant City Administrator in Ann Arbor, Michigan, are the two finalist candidates for the position of City Manager in Evanston.
This coming Tuesday, May 3, the city will host a virtual community town hall where each candidate will discuss his vision for the future of Evanston and answer questions from residents. One finalist will start the town hall at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and the other will follow at 7:30 p.m., according to a Friday news release from the city. Evanston residents can submit questions for the candidates ahead of time at this link by 5 p.m. Monday.
After that, on Friday, May 6, community stakeholders, Evanston city staff directors, non-senior staff and the City Council will directly interview both candidates. The Council will receive feedback from all groups before Monday, May 9, in time to discuss the interview results during that night’s regular council meeting.
According to the city’s news release, City Council members worked with Baltimore-based recruiting firm Stanton Chase to narrow a field of 75 potential candidates to five semifinalists before landing on Poche and Fournier as finalists. Here are some details on the candidates’ backgrounds:
As the leader of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Albert “Snapper” Poche helps graduate students at Harvard University with their research and field work on the challenges facing cities across the country. According to the initiative’s website, the program “equips mayors and senior city officials with leadership skills and management tools to tackle their cities’ complex challenges and improve people’s quality of life.”
Before joining the Bloomberg Harvard team, Poche worked as Program Director for Innovation Field Lab–New York, which provides technical assistance, community engagement support and leadership to 10 cities across the state of New York. Prior to that position, he served as the Director of Code Enforcement for the City of New Orleans, worked in operations for the National Park Service and spent over two years in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer. He has a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago and an undergraduate degree in biology from Southeastern Louisiana University.
In his role as Assistant City Administrator in Ann Arbor, John Fournier has worked on developing a comprehensive transportation infrastructure and clean energy sources to combat the effects of climate change on city services and livability. Before moving to Ann Arbor, he spent a number of years working for the City of Pittsburgh, where he worked in positions including Chief of Staff to a member of City Council, Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Bill Peduto and as the Director of On-street and Metered Parking.
According to his biography compiled by the City of Evanston, as the parking czar of Pittsburgh, Fournier “helped build and manage the most technologically advanced municipal parking system in North America.” His own website adds that he grew up in a working-class family in the Detroit area before attending the James Madison College of Public Affairs at Michigan State University. He and his wife, Dr. Chelsea Wentworth, spent time in Austin, Texas, before moving to Pittsburgh, where Fournier also received a master’s of public administration from Pennsylvania State University.
The announcement of Fournier and Poche as finalists also comes just a few months after a previous City Council search for a City Manager went awry, with the Council’s preferred candidate, Daniel Ramos, taking a position in Texas instead.
Evanston’s most recent City Manager, Erika Storlie, stepped down in September 2021. Since then, former Evanston Corporation Counsel Kelly Gandurski, who served as Storlie’s Deputy City Manager, has worked in the position of interim City Manager.