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RSCVA board backs preliminary terms for new CEO contract

By Carla O'Day
Reno Sparks Convention Center

The Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority board on Thursday approved a tentative employment agreement for its new CEO.

Charles Harris is expected to start work the first part of November. He was hired during a special RSCVA meeting Monday after a nationwide search.

Incoming RSCVA CEO Charles Harris

Harris is chief marketing officer and executive vice president for public affairs at Visit Anaheim in Southern California. He’s held that position since 2014. Prior to that, Harris was vice president of marketing at Luxe Hotels in Bel Air.

RSCVA attorney Ben Kennedy said the organization plans to negotiate a $290,000 annual base salary for Harris and a bonus of up to 35%. Additionally, a $750 monthly vehicle allowance, moving expenses, four weeks of vacation per year and 12 months of severance are proposed.

Board member Andy Chapman said the package seems fair.

“From a clarifying point in where the package is now, it’s pretty similar to what the board had provided direction to (SearchWide Global’s) Mike (Gamble) and his team when we started this effort,” Chapman said.

Board member Daniel Farahi noted that senior staff recently took a 15% cut and asked if Harris was aware of that.

“Has that been discussed with Mr. Harris? Is so, what was the outcome of those discussions?” Farahi asked. “Was he aware of it and has it been discussed with him at all as it may pertain to him?”

Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey, an RSCVA board member, said such issues weren’t discussed with Harris prior to him being hired.

“I don’t think we should be discussing that with him,” Lucey said. “There was a salary we invited him to come participate on. So, to invite him and then force a pay cut is not professional, nor should we do that.”

The board suggested Harris meet with RSCVA’s finance committee within 60 days of starting to discuss issues related to staff salaries.

Harris replaces Phil DeLone, who was hired through a national search in November 2016 and began his tenure with the RSCVA in early 2017. He resigned in February, citing health reasons. His resignation also came shortly after allegations of misconduct surfaced.

DeLone started with a $250,000 annual salary and $750 per month vehicle allowance. He received cost-of-living increases and was eligible for annual bonuses of up to 40%.

Jennifer Cunningham, RSCVA executive vice president, has been filling the role of interim CEO.




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