DLBA picks internal candidate as first new CEO in 25 years

A Long Beach native and longtime employee of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance has been selected as the nonprofit’s new CEO, the organization announced Thursday.

Austin Metoyer, a graduate of Long Beach Poly and Cal State Long Beach, joined the DLBA in 2016 where he most recently served as economic development and policy manager. In this role, he handled major projects like the renewal of the improvement district, which funds the DLBA through fees from Downtown property owners.

“My family and I have deep roots in the city and a passion for seeing the community prosper,” Metoyer said in a statement. “I truly believe a successful Downtown is vital to the overall success of Long Beach.”

The chair of the DLBA’s board, Loara Cadavona, called Metoyer “the next generation leader for the organization.”

Metoyer is the DLBA’s first new CEO in more than two decades. The DLBA and longtime CEO Kraig Kojain “mutually agreed to part ways” in November after an investigation into his alleged mistreatment of employees.

His departure kicked off a search for a new chief executive, for which the DLBA tapped a search committee of board members and prominent business leaders.

After sifting through hundreds of potential applicants over the span of six months, the committee presented its top three top candidates, which also included Blair Cohn, the executive director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, and Carl Kemp, chief communications officer of environmental affairs at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Metoyer beat them both out, despite a search-committee member advocating for Kemp behind the scenes, according to two sources familiar with the situation. The situation drew an admonishment from Cadavona at a board meeting last month after she was informed that the search-committee member was leaking details about the finalists to board members and other community members.

Metoyer will start the new job on Sept. 7, according to the DLBA.

In addition to his bachelor’s from CSULB, he also has a master’s degree in planning from USC and has previous experience working for former Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa’s Office of Economic and Business Policy and the National Foreign Trade Council in Washington, according to a biography provided by the DLBA.

“Austin is the right person in the right role at the right time,” said Debra Fixen, the incoming chair for the DLBA who also co-chaired the search committee. “As the first new President and CEO of the organization in the past 25 years, we are fortunate to have someone with such a great mix of community, industry and leadership experience to build on the organization’s success and take it to the next level for the business and residential community. “

DLBA chair admonishes search committee member for leaking names of CEO finalists

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Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram.
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