Flint, MI—Flint’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) director, Kiaira May, has submitted her resignation, according to a City of Flint press release on May 5, 2023. Her last day will be May 12.
The DDA’s role is to attract development, businesses and visitors to the city’s core, and May’s role is by appointment of the mayor and approval of City Council.
While the DDA functions somewhat separately from city government, it is informed by it, with Mayor Neeley acting as the Flint DDA’s board chair. May’s resignation therefore adds to a host of leadership vacancies and interim appointments in Neeley’s current administration.
In March, Flint CFO Rob Widigan submitted his resignation to take on a role as Wayne County’s deputy CFO, and the city’s planning and development director and department of public works director announced their retirements—both of which are effective as of press time.
Jane Mager was named as acting CFO in April, but the City has not yet named successors to either director position.
Aside from those vacancies, the city had already been without an economic development director or permanent fire chief for months. It also doesn’t have an ombudsperson, a position has been posted since September of 2022.
“The City of Flint continues to attract talented individuals who grow through their experience with us, and I’m happy to celebrate their professional achievements as they go on to be ambassadors of hope for the Flint community in other arenas,” Neeley said in the May 5 press release.
The release noted May, who has served as Flint’s DDA director for nearly two years, was departing for a “growth opportunity.”
Acting communications director Caitie O’Neill later confirmed that opportunity was a position as senior account manager for Ignition Media Group, a Detroit-based consultant.
“I wish Ms. May the very best in her new position and thank her for her service to the residents of Flint,” Neeley said. “As the first African American and youngest ever DDA Director, Ms. May successfully took on the challenge of making downtown Flint a more inclusive, welcoming place for our diverse community.”
May did not respond to Flint Beat’s request for comment by press time.
The outgoing director joined the DDA in the summer of 2021, at just 28 years old. At the time, May told Flint Beat she hoped to improve the organization’s communication with residents, businesses and visitors, as well as the community’s perception of the DDA and the ever-contentious downtown parking experience.
“We’re all playing on this playground together,” May said in her 2021 interview. “We won’t always agree, but at the same time, we all want the betterment of Flint. That’s the number one thing.”
May recently shepherded the DDA through a strategic planning process with a team of outside consultants.
That team noted a lack of diversity in Flint’s downtown, especially when compared with the city’s majority Black population and recommended bringing younger, more diverse representation to the DDA board and helping foster Black ownership of downtown businesses as part of their February 2023 report.
“Downtowns are for everybody,” May said at the time. “And I feel like with this plan, we will really be on the right track in attracting just more investments, more things, more opportunities for Flint.”
May’s resignation comes amid a major downtown construction project and just ahead of Flint’s spring/summer event season, which kicks off today with a DDA-supported Cinco de Mayo celebration by the Latinx Technology and Community Center.
Mayor Neeley did not respond to Flint Beat’s request for his timeline to appoint a new DDA director by press time.
As a resident of the city of flint and a retired senior, it is quite obvious that the leadership of our city is very poor. With so many resignations there has to be a major problem, the mayor has not shown the residents of flint that he is a good leader. We have been through so much. To have this happen.
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