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BRPC Launching Search For New Executive Director
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:27PM / Wednesday, October 18, 2017
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Nathaniel Karns is looking to retire in the first half of next year.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — BRPC's search for a new director will begin in earnest next month.
 
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Nathaniel Karns is planning to retire in early 2018. A search committee has been formed to find who will become the agency's third executive director.
 
Karns said he wants to retire no earlier than Jan. 1 and no later than Sept. 1, 2018, but is "pretty flexible" with what that date will be.
 
"I think a realistic goal at this point is to try to have someone selected, so we know exactly where we are moving forward, by March, early April with the expectation that they start work in May or June, which would work for me," Karns told the search committee on Tuesday.
 
But, for the time after Jan. 1, 2018, he'd like some additional flexibility in the work he does there. He says he has a few family events he needs to have time off for and wants some flexibility to travel during that period. He said he'd work full time for a period and then take chunks of time off, averaging out to a part-time level of work.
 
If the search committee can find somebody to start earlier than May, Karns said he is fine with that. But, the committee won't have somebody in place before the start of 2018. The search committee doesn't plan to start reviewing the applicants until then.
 
The search committee plans on advertising the position sometime after Nov. 8, when the committee will meet to finalize the job description and a profile of the organization to give to prospective candidates. The advertising will stay up for about a month, ending just before Christmas. In those two weeks at the end of the year, the applications of those who don't fit the requirements will be weeded out and an initial round of interviews is expected to take place in early January.
 
But, the posting will still be available in some free spots and on the organization's website. The group will accept applications throughout, closing only after the position has been filled.
 
"It is going to be out there and it is on your website," said Berkshire Community College President Ellen Kennedy, who is serving on the search committee.
 
Right now, the organization is still trying to finalize what it wants out of applicants. Kennedy suggested that beyond the typical cover letter and resume, that candidates submit a "one-page philosophy" letter.
 
"It weeds out the people who are just mass-applying for positions," Kennedy said.
 
Senior Planner Lauren Gaherty suggested that response is centered on relating that the region. She said she wants to make it clear what the Berkshire community is and isn't to incoming applicants and wants the applicants to show that they understand a bit about it.
 
"Make them do a little bit of homework, make sure we are getting someone who's personality and experience matches the region and its needs," she said.
 
BRPC representative Rene Wood suggested that could be done during the interviews too. She suggested the concept of providing some interview questions to the finalists up front to see how they respond with time to prepare -- showing a difference between the people who are quick on their feet and people who are more deliberate.
 
Karns has headed the organization for the last 23 years. He took the position in 1994, following the footsteps of Karl Hekler. Hekler was the first executive director, hired in 1968, only a year after the organization was formed.
 
In the last two decades, the organization has changed a bit, as has the industry. The search committee is now going through the job description and the overview of the organization again to make sure the advertisement fits what it is looking for in a director. 
 
Gaherty said she is particularly interested in finding a candidate who knows and understands the planning industry throughout the county.
 
"You've got to have that up to date knowledge of what is going on in the field across the country," she said.
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