One day you wake up and there’s a whole new Rolodex of names to know in town.
It happened somewhat gradually, but across education, major institutions, sports and the arts, San Diego’s got some new folks leading the way these days. Have a look and get your contact list updated.
Padres Manager Pat Murphy
Hours after the Padres fired coach Bud Black, Pat Murphy was on a plane, westward-bound.
Now interim manager, Murphy carries a lengthy resume in the world of baseball. The El Paso Chihuahuas, a beautifully named minor league team in Texas and Triple-A affiliate of the Padres, had fought off pursuing teams before to hang onto Murphy. According to the El Paso Times, the Milwaukee Brewers tried to scoop him up earlier this year. Before that, he led Notre Dame, Arizona State and the Eugene Emeralds. “None of Murphy’s teams at the collegiate or professional level have had a losing record,” the Times reported.
Murphy’s first game with the Padres wasn’t a home-run (too on the nose?), but two days later when the team again faced the Oakland Athletics, he got his celebratory shower. Beer and champagne mixed with baby powder seems like a nice welcome to the neighborhood.
Port CEO Randa Coniglio
The Port of San Diego ended up naming one of its own to take on the responsibilities of president and CEO; Randa Coniglio had been with the Port roughly 15 years before stepping into the top spot earlier this month.
The Port was without a commander-in-chief for nearly a year. Wayne Darbeau was voted out by Port commissioners last July, after the U-T Watchdog team reported he’d solicited Port tenants for a job for his son amid negotiations with those tenants.
Coniglio was most recently executive vice president for operations. She becomes the Port’s first-ever female CEO.
U-T Publisher Austin Beutner
He’s still fresh to newspapering all together, but in the last year, Austin Beutner has become Southern California’s own publishing powerhouse.
Beutner snapped up U-T San Diego last month, and promptly revived its old San Diego Union-Tribune handle, just nine months after being named publisher of the Los Angeles Times. Before that, he was a longtime investment banker.
Capital sat down with Beutner to talk about his plans for San Diego’s daily:
“We have to own the conversation about where we live, our neighborhood, physical or digital, our community and how that community connects with other communities and the state, the nation and the world. The conversation starts at home. The foundation piece is where we work and live.”
That seems like an elementary point, but one that’s been diminished as newspapers have cut back their newsroom staffs by a third over the last eight years. Newspapers have “drifted away” from that local touch, says Beutner.
Scott Lewis broke down the chilling challenge Beutner faces as he sweeps the Union-Tribune under his wing.
SUHSD Superintendent Karen Janney
Sweetwater Union High School District continues its slow climb toward redemption with a new chief. Karen Janney, a former Sweetwater educator, takes over for interim supe Phil Stover at the start of the 2015-2016 school year in a few months.
She’s had a long career in Sweetwater schools, including a lawsuit she lost against the district after she was demoted from assistant superintendent in 2009, the Union-Tribune reported.
Janney’s hiring comes more than three years after a slow-roll scandal first rocked the district. Rob Davis put together a pretty great guide to the whole debacle at the time, and we’ve been keeping an eye on reform efforts since then.
The district post has been a game of musical chairs since Ed Brand – who took over when Jesus Gandara was indicted in the pay-to-play scandal – was put on administrative leave last July. Tim Grover took over for Brand, then resigned in February. Director of Human Resources Sandra Huezo filled the post until Stover stepped up in April.
Rebuilding the district’s reputation and relationship with the community has been the name of the game these last couple years. Sweetwater trustees haven’t quite mastered the concept of “transparency,” but maybe Janney can set a good example.
San Diego Opera General Director David Bennett
San Diego Opera has largely recovered from the financial hardship that nearly forced it to shutter. But earlier this year, the institution decided to yank talent from back east to find new ways to run a tight ship.
David Bennett, previously executive director of New York’s “adventuresome” Gotham Chamber Opera, was picked back in March to take the reins here in San Diego.
Opera spokesman Edward Wilensky confirmed Bennett started in his new role last Monday. “He brings a lot of knowledge about what opera can be and not what it’s been for the past 400 years,” Wilensky said. Don’t expect to see startlingly different offerings for a while, though; the Opera plans to honor its long-term contracts for some grand productions these next two years. “We’re not a race car; we cant turn on a dime,” Wilensky said of the transition. “We’re more like a barge.”
Starting in 2017, though, audiences can expect to see newer works in some “unique places,” along with more collaboration with other cultural mainstays like the Old Globe Theatre and San Diego Symphony.