The Texoma Council of Governments’ board of directors said the group expects to name the council’s new leader in the coming weeks, as current Executive Director Susan B. Thomas prepares to part ways with the organization on July 18.

“Dr. Thomas announced her resignation approximately 80 days ago, so we put out a notice that we were seeking applicants,” TCOG Board of Directors President and Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley said. “I think we had 11 qualified applicants put in for it. Of those, we did phone interviews with seven and, of that, we narrowed it down to two finalists.”

Brinkley said the two final candidates hail from the Pilot Point area and Pennsylvania, and were interviewed in person at TCOG’s headquarters in Sherman last Thursday.

“We spoke with each one of them individually,” Brinkley said. “We had six members that were there for the meeting and one was phoned in. We didn’t have a quorum, so we couldn’t make any decision, but we had a good discussion with both the candidates. I think either one of them would be an excellent choice.”

The TCOG board president said each applicant was required to have a college degree and the board sought those with a minimum of five to eight years of managerial experience within a government-related field or position.

“Both of these individuals that we interviewed met that qualification and then some,” Brinkley said.

Thomas has held TCOG’s executive director position for more than nine years and announced her resignation from the council in late April to pursue new professional endeavors.

“TCOG is a vital resource for the people of Texoma, and the organization provides critical services and support for this region’s most vulnerable populations,” Thomas said in an April press release. “I am proud of the work my staff and I have accomplished over the last several years, and I am confident TCOG employees will continue to serve this region with commitment and compassion for years to come.”

Brinkley said Thomas’ replacement will have to serve as a connection between those who work and run the council.

“Mainly the executive director is the conduit, if you will, between the TCOG staff and the TCOG board of directors,” Brinkley said. “You have to have someone that obviously has a working knowledge of government and who is able to handle a budget of several million dollars and benefit the employees. But at the same time they must also deal with a diverse board across the three county region.”

Brinkley said he felt as though he and his fellow board members had collected all the information they needed from the two interviews, but would do their last minute due diligence in vetting the candidates and would likely make an offer in the near future.

“Hopefully, in the next week or two, we’ll have a special called meeting to have that last discussion between the board,” Brinkley said. “I’m pretty confident that we’ll be able to come out of that meeting and extend an offer to one of them.”

TCOG was established in 1968 as a voluntary association of local governments in Grayson, Fannin and Cooke counties. The body promotes economic growth and efficiency through coordinated planning and development within the tri-county region.