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RSCVA board discusses salary range, qualifications for next CEO

By Carla O'Day
Published: Last Updated on

The search firm tasked with finding the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority’s next chief executive told the board Thursday that salaries have increased since the last CEO was hired and employment packages are now more generous.

Previous CEO Phil DeLone began work in January 2017 with a base salary of $250,000 with an annual bonus of up to 40 percent of his income. He also got annual cost-of-living increases and a $750 per month vehicle allowance. Citing health reasons, DeLone resigned in February.

“Certainly with the size of your organization, based on budget complexity and oversight of facilities — pre-COVID and even post-COVID — these packages around the country would likely be much higher,” said Mike Gamble of SearchWide Global, who is leading the CEO search for the RSCVA.

Gamble said CEO salaries for organizations with similar budgets and no facility oversight range between $280,000 and $380,000 with bonuses between 30 and 40 percent of salary. Only 5 percent of such organizations pay less than $280,000, he said.

RSCVA facility oversight consists of the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center, National Bowling Stadium and Reno Events Center.

“For me, it’s about the candidate, not the salary,” said RSCVA board member Ed Lawson, a Sparks city councilman. “If we have an absolutely awesome candidate and if they’re demanding $350,000, then we’ve got to look at that being the number.”

RSCVA should be careful about posting large salaries, board member and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said.

“We really want someone who’s going to want to be in this destination, be in Reno, embrace Reno, not throw this carrot in front of their faces,” Schieve said.

Gamble also suggested an initial 3-year contract be offered, along with 12 months of severance. DeLone’s contract allowed for 6 months of severance.

“Coming into recovery period, I believe security of the package would be the most enticing thing,” said board chairman Bob Lucey, a Washoe County commissioner.

Lucey also suggested a salary range not be published in the job posting and that criteria for bonuses be definitive rather than discretionary.

Gamble recommended board members avoid personal contact with CEO candidates and to inform SearchWide Global of any outside information they may receive. He said he plans to bring a list of contenders to the board in August.

Jennifer Cunningham, RSCVA executive director of marketing, has been filling the CEO role in the interim.

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