Meet the 6 semi-finalists vying to become JEA’s next CEO

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The firm leading the search for JEA’s next chief executive officer has narrowed the list of candidates down to six semi-finalists.

Mycoff Fry Partners provided its short list to JEA’s interim CEO Paul McElroy in a Monday memo, saying the firm is “prepared to move forward with the next phase” of the executive search.

The semi-finalists include:

  • Elaina Ball, the interim chief operating officer for El Paso Electric in El Paso, Texas, who previously served as chief operating officer for Austin Energy in Austin, Texas.
  • John Hairston, the chief operating officer for Bonneville Power Administration in Portland, Oregon, whose previous role was the utility’s chief administrative officer.
  • William Herdegen, the vice president of operations for Henkels & McCoy, Inc., a privately held utility construction and engineering firm headquartered in Pennsylvania.
  • Cheryl Mele, an independent consultant who has previous experience working as interim vice president of regulatory affairs for Austin Energy in Austin, Texas.
  • Morgan O’Brien, an industry veteran who previously worked as chief executive officer of Peoples Gas, a natural gas provider in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky.
  • Jay Stowe, the founder and CEO of Stowe Utility Group, who previously held senior management roles for the Tennessee Valley Authority in Tennessee.

Up next in the search is a round of final interviews scheduled for Oct. 12-16, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record.

These semi-finalists are vying to replace McElroy, the interim chief executive officer who took over after the ouster of former CEO Aaron Zahn.

Zahn was fired over allegations related to a shelved plan to put the city utility up for sale and a controversial bonus scheme that could have enriched executives in the event of a sale.


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Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.