Barker hires assistant to the mayor

Barker hires assistant to the mayor
Greg Ladner. Source: City of Hattiesburg

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker has hired another member of his mayoral leadership team, and this one will be tasked with developing a strategic plan.

Thursday, Barker announced the hiring on John "Greg" Ladner as the assistant to the mayor.

"Greg Ladner is a gifted administrator, and so we have an open position right now, in the assistant to the Mayor's position, so what we decided to do was bring someone on who could help us accomplish a few very needed specific things," said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker. "He will be leading a strategic planning process, as well as a full organizational review."

Barker said this will allow his team to evaluate where the city is currently, and see where they want to go over the next five, 10 and even 15 years.

Ladner most recently served as interim superintendent of the Hattiesburg Public School District. In that role, he successfully kept the school district financially solvent, engaged community stakeholders and stabilized administrative costs.

"We all know the good that Dr. Greg Ladner did for the Hattiesburg Public School District, taking them from a very financial uncertain time, making some tough choices, but also providing the real leadership and digging in to what the problems were and brought them out into financial solvency by the end of the fiscal year," said Barker.

One thing Barker said that's a win for the city and tax payers, is the savings when it comes to the salary for the position.

"This position, the assistant to the mayor job is actually slatted at $50,000, however, because Greg is already retired, he can only make half that," said Barker. "So, we're getting a top-notch administrator who's very gifted in strategic planning, organizational review for only $25,000, this allows us to best use the tax payer's dollars, while also bringing some cost saving to the table as well."

"We have a duty to the taxpayers to evaluate every facet of our city government, to make sure they are getting the most talented people who will work hard and provide the best in customer service," Barker said.

Barker said there are still numerous positions that he is looking to fill for his team.

"We want a team that works hard, is talented, that is diverse and reflects the diversity we have in this community, and people that can really help provide good customer service to the citizens," said Barker. "I'm proud of the team we've assembled so far and I'm going to continue working diligently and methodically to make that we put the entire city workforce in the best possible light."

A Lumberton native, Ladner currently resides in Hattiesburg. He received his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in education from The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. He retired in 2010 after serving four years as superintendent of the Pearl Public School District.

Prior to Pearl Public School District, he served as superintendent of Lumberton School District and as interim superintendent of Moss Point Public Schools. He also has experience in working as a trainer for school boards and superintendents with the Mississippi School Board Association for more than 30 districts across the state.

Ladner is the fifth person to be added to Barker's administrative team, joining Ann Jones as chief administrative officer, Kermas Eaton as city clerk, Samantha McCain as chief communications officer, and Andrew Ellard as director of urban development.