Cherry Blossom Festival officials announced Monday that Jake Ferro will serve as interim president and CEO of the 2013 festival.
The move comes less than a week after Richard Brewer, former president and CEO, resigned after four months on the job. He said he was leaving Macon to spend more time with his family in Charleston, S.C., and to resume his consulting business there.
Ferro, 69, is a retired president and CEO of Bonsal American Inc., a Charlotte, N.C.-based construction materials company that was later acquired by a larger company based in Ireland. He previously served as president of the J.M. Huber Corp. in Macon from 1986 to 1995.
George McCanless, chairman of the festival board and publisher of The Telegraph, said Monday that Ferro has the proven leadership skills needed to run the festival.
Hes got a wealth of experience in leadership roles, McCanless said. Hes a proven leader who is actively involved in a lot of civic areas, including the festival. The board felt it needed a proven leader who will work well with the team and get the festival done with as little trouble as possible.
Cyndey Busbee, the 2013 festivals chairwoman, said in a news release: We are excited that Jake comes to us with a long-standing relationship to the Festival and a friend and community supporter. We look forward to getting him up to speed with all the projects planned for the 2013 Festival.
Earlier this year, Ferro applied for the president and CEOs job to replace Karen Lambert in the festival presidents job. Lambert left to become president of the Peyton Anderson Foundation, and the festival job went to Brewer.
Ferro said he has wanted to get back into a leadership position for some time after retiring in 2002. He and his wife, Michele, have been running an antiques store for the past several years.
When they notified me about the interim position, I was very excited, said Ferro, who interviewed with board members last week. At this point, Ill do what I can to help.
Ferro said hes not focusing on becoming permanent president and CEO but instead will work hard to get the 10-day festival ready by March.
Im taking it one step at a time, he said. I was looking to get back into a management/leadership position, and then this came along.
Despite the short time between now and the festivals March 15 start, Ferro and McCanless both said the organizations staff has done an excellent job preparing for the event.
I think (coming in late to the planning) is very marginal, and the reason is theyve got a great team with a great infrastructure, Ferro said. I hope to add my experience to this.
McCanless said the festival staff has laid much of the groundwork for the 2013 event and that preparations are about at the same point this year as they were a year ago.
The staff has done a great job, McCanless said. We just need someone to oversee and orchestrate things. There needs to be someone to organize the effort ... to get around roadblocks and make the few remaining sponsor calls.
McCanless said there havent been any issues with sponsors since Brewers resignation.
McCanless couldnt say how many people were considered for the interim position, but he said Ferro was at the top of the list.
Ferro said the Cherry Blossom Festival is an opportunity for Macon to show off the city to out-of-town visitors from around the world during the most beautiful time of the year.
Im excited to be a part of it, he said.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.