Nine finalists have made the short list for Key West’s next city manager. The list of eight men and one woman includes four Florida Keys locals, four residents of other Florida cities and one village administrator from Michigan. Keys residents who made the short list are James Brownlee, David Burke, Thaddeus Cohen and Abe Conn.

Consultant Dona Higginbotham of the Mercer Group, who was hired by the city to conduct the 

search, narrowed the field from 43 applicants to the nine finalists. She provided that short list to the city and to the search committee whose members were appointed by the city commissioners and mayor.

Higginbotham told the search committee at a Dec. 19 meeting that she had reviewed all 43 applications, using the education and experience criteria set forth by the city commission to recommend the nine finalists.

Now it’s up to the committee members to narrow the list further. Each will submit his or her top three candidates to Higginbotham by Jan. 16.  She’ll compile the top vote-getters and pass those names to the city commission for interviews.

Before finalizing their top three choices, members can meet privately with Higginbotham on Jan. 10 and 11 to discuss candidates, qualifications and potential concerns.

But the committee will not discuss or debate the individual candidates, nor will the committee conduct any interviews, Committee Chair Sam Holland said, adding that it wouldn’t be appropriate for an advisory committee.

“This committee won’t sit in a forum and discuss individual applicants, dress them up and down, consider their pros and cons,” Holland said. “We’re not going to do that. It’s not appropriate. Discussion of individual applications will take place at the commission level. Once we’ve selected our top three or four finalists, it’s then in the commission’s hands. And I know they’ll have some pretty hefty public interview sessions with each candidate.”

Interviews will likely take place in late January or early February, and an offer could be made the second week of February. If all goes according to schedule, the successful candidate will start work in April to provide three months of overlap with City Manager Patti McLauchlin, who retires in July, 

Committee member Arlo Haskell wanted to ensure as much transparency as possible throughout the process.

“I think the more transparency, the better,” he said. “I’d like to see at least the nine finalists’ applications made public.”

City Clerk Cheri Smith said the applications are all a matter of public record. City spokeswoman Alyson Crean sent an email after the meeting, saying that the nine finalists’ applications had been posted on the city’s website at cityofkeywest-fl.gov. Click on “City Manager Search.

The below candidate summaries, compiled by Higginbotham, include the nine finalists, their current city of residence, educational degrees and their current or most recent position. 

The below candidate summaries, compiled by Higginbotham, include the nine finalists, their current city of residence, educational degrees and their current or most recent position. 

Raymond Bossert

Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

• Master of Public Administration

• Village administrator in Port 

Edwards, Wisconsin, May 2020 to present

James Brownlee

Key West, Florida

• Master of aeronautical science

• Executive officer at Naval Air 

Station Key West, June 2021 

to present

David Burke

Key West, Florida

• Master of science in national 

security & master of science in global leadership

• Chief of staff, captain, U.S. Navy, 2020 to present

Albert Childress

Doral, Florida

• Master of business administration & master of public administration

• City of Doral, Florida, 2005 to 2021

Thaddeus Cohen

Key West, Florida

• Bachelor of architecture

• MBR Construction, project 


Abraham Conn

Sugarloaf Key, Florida

• Master in strategic studies

• Senior special agent with the DEA and U.S. Army colonel (retired)

Brian Geoghegan

Fort Myers, Florida

• Master of administrative science

• City manager in Howell Township from 2017 until August 2022

Lisa Hendrickson

Redington Shores, Florida

• Master of public administration

• Assistant city manager of Pinellas Park, Florida, 2000 to 2022

Don King Jr.

Land O Lakes, Florida

• Master of arts in executive 

strategic studies & business 


• Chief of staff, Special 

Operations Command Europe, 

2020 to present

• U.S. Army colonel

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.