When two important positions needed to be filled for the Town of Cutler Bay, town manager Rafael Casals conducted the usual searches, studying applicants from around the country and doing interviews, but he finally made the decision to appoint people who had already been working within those departments with local experience.
“I’m big on internal promotions whenever possible because there’s a short learning curve and it’s great because you get to see those individuals in action every day,” said Casals in a Sept. 29 interview. “It’s great when you work side by side for several years with someone as an employee, and then they have the credentials, the qualifications and grade to have a chance to be in a senior management position.”
Most recent staff move was Kathryn Lyon, the new Community Development director, appointed to that position on Aug. 25 to replace the departing Julian Perez. She had been working as a planner since March 2008 and served as Community Development interim director twice and recently earned her certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners. She completed her master’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Environmental Studies in 2004 from Florida Atlantic University after earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from the University of Florida in 2000.
“It’s great,” Lyon said . “I’m looking forward to working more with the residents now. I’ve worked with them closely before as a town planner, but now I’ll be working more in a decision-making position. It’s very exciting for me.
“I love working for the town. I’m very comfortable here, as I’m very familiar with the codes that I helped develop, working on the calculations that went into them. I’m very familiar with how the town was developed and it’s a great opportunity to actually implement what I helped build.”
Etienne Bejarano was appointed to the position of Parks and Recreation director in July after former director Alan Ricke retired. Bejarano had worked for the Town of Cutler Bay previously from February 2009 to February 2011 and from November 2011 to August 2013. He also has worked for the cities of Homestead, Deerfield Beach, Aventura and Doral, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and Health from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and has more than 11 years of municipal Parks and Recreation field and supervisory experience.
“I’m pretty fortunate and lucky,” said Bejarano, who turned 36 in September. “This is my third time here. My dream was to become a park director. I’m spent some time in other cities, but never as much time as I did here. To obtain my goal at the age I am, I feel very fortunate and excited. Ralph is putting a lot of faith in me to run the parks.
“I spent four and a half years in Cutler Bay with Alan Ricke as my mentor. I know most of the town staffers already, and I want to bring my knowledge and experience to Cutler Bay. It’s a great town to be a part of at this time because it is growing.”
Town manager Casals said that he feels confident the appointments will work well for the town’s residents.
“For me, since Etienne had worked for Alan Ricke, the continuity was important,” Casals said. “He planned a lot of special events that we have throughout the year, so he knows the vendors and the community. Kathryn worked closely with Julian Perez so she knows the job too and can fill those shoes.”