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County public affairs head finalists announced
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Two finalists were named today for Rockdale County’s Director of Public Affairs position — Tonya Y. Parker and Alicia Cardwell-Brown. The Board of Commissioners is expected to take action on the appointment at their next voting session on Jan. 10.

Cardwell-Brown is the Community Liaison for the Office of Chronic Disease Prevention, DeKalb County Board of Health. A graduate of Boston University, Cardwell-Brown has also worked with the Carter Presidential Center, Turner Broadcasting System’s Trumpet Awards show, as a private consultant, and with the Georgia Perimeter College’s Office of Recruitment, according to her resume.

Parker is the Community Relations and Public Affairs Director for Further Development, LLC, where she “manages legislative operations tied to real estate deals, programs and partnerships,” according to her resume. A graduate of University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore., Parker has worked with the city of Portland and Fannie Mae and as a reporter for papers in Oregon and Washington state. Parker has also freelanced for the News.

Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon said the Human Resources department evaluated all applicants and a panel comprised of county employees and members outside the county did further evaluations and sent a short list to Board of Commissioners Chairman Richard Oden, who selected the finalists. Commissioner JaNice Van Ness said she had not met the finalists. Pridgeon said Commissioners Oz Nesbitt and Van Ness would have an opportunity to meet with the finalists before the Jan. 10 voting session.

Previous Public Affairs Director Erica Fatima resigned in October after a year and a half in the position.
Prior to her hiring, the position had been vacant since 2009, when then Director Julie Mills was let go. Deputy Director Holly LaFontaine had served as interim director and was one of three finalists for the position in 2010. LaFontaine's position was cut in 2010 during a round of budget cuts. LaFontaine filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging discrimination charges.