Mayor Donna Deegan on Thursday added to her diverse and growing crowd of appointees, tapping former City Councilwoman Randy DeFoor as the city’s top attorney and announcing six other top officials.
During a news conference at City Hall, Deegan spoke highly of her new choices to head up public works and sports and entertainment, as well as her picks for small businesses administrator, council liaison and the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission.
Here are the mayor’s latest choices:
- Deegan had previously announced she plans to nominate DeFoor to the position of lead general counsel. The announcement came Wednesday, a day after Defoor interviewed for the position at a General Counsel Qualification Review Committee meeting. The City Council will need to confirm Deegan’s choice. DeFoor currently serves as senior vice president and national agency counsel at Fidelity National Title Group. She recently decided not to run for reelection as councilwoman for District 14.
- Nina Sickler is set to head up the city’s Public Works department, as the first woman to hold that title in Jacksonville. Sickler is a professional engineer and senior vice president of River City Development Group.
- Alex Alston was selected as chief of sports and entertainment. Alston is the managing director of sports and entertainment at FIS and previously managed sales and marketing for Jacksonville sports and entertainment venues as a director at ASM Global. Alston also was an executive at the sports commissions in Gainesville and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is the Jacksonville Police Athletic League board president and a board member of Visit Jacksonville.
- Rudy Jamison, Jr. is set to serve as executive director of the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. Formerly a director and professor at the University of North Florida, where he focused on race relations, urban education, community partnerships, and leadership development, Jamison also serves on a number of local nonprofit boards.
- Jimmy Midyette was tapped to serve as diversity manager for the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission. Midyette has advocated for the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Florida Institute, Jacksonville Coalition for Equality and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.
- Gregory Grant will serve as the Jacksonville small and emerging businesses administrator. Grant is the assistant director of UNF’s Small Business Development Center and an adjunct professor at UNF, Florida State College at Jacksonville and Trinity Baptist College.
- Local columnist Bill Delaney is expected to serve as a council liaison. He is the University of North Florida’s director of strategy and project management and also writes about Jacksonville culture, history, and public policy as co-owner and editor of The Jaxson, Modern Cities, and Edible Northeast Florida.
“We just absolutely continue to add to our — I’m just gonna say it — rockstar team here of difference-makers and innovators and collaborators,” Deegan said of her choices.
The mayor added that, so far, her office has become nearly 15% more diverse than the previous administration.
“I am proud that our new hires look a lot like Jacksonville today,” the mayor said. She mentioned that 26% are African American, 9% Asian American, 6% “other” ethnicities, 3% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and 9% members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Of DeFoor, Deegan said she is a “straight shooter” who is known for her “courageous stand against the corrupt sale of JEA, which helped stop the biggest theft in our city’s history.”
“She’s independent. She’s honest, she’s tough, and she is fair,” Deegan said. “Those are qualities that the city of Jacksonville and I need at this crucial time in our history.”