Coastal Commission selects new director
February 15, 2017
After hiring a consulting firm that contacted more than 1,000 candidates nationwide, the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously last week to hire its interim chief as its new executive director. Jack Ainsworth has worked for the commission for 29 years, and over the last year, he served as acting director of the agency.
Last February, the Coastal Commission voted 7-5 at a contentious meeting held in Morro Bay to fire its longtime executive director Charles Lester, who was widely viewed as an environmentalist. Lester’s firing prompted numerous accusations that the Coastal Commission majority, including Pismo Beach Councilman Erik Howell, is promoting development as the expense of California’s coastal environment.
Following Lester’s firing, the commission hired CPS HR Consulting to conduct a search for a new director. The top finalists were interviewed during a marathon nine-hour period, a Coastal Commission press release states.
“While all the candidates were extremely well-qualified, Jack’s depth of understanding of coastal issues, the challenges confronting this agency and his steady leadership over the last year has thoroughly impressed us,” commission chair Dayna Bochco said.
Ainsworth, 59, is a San Bernardino native who is a career Coastal Commission employee and comes from a family of public servants. Both his parents were public servants, as were all eight of his siblings.
The new Coastal Commission chief issued a statement saying he vows to protect California’s coast for everyone.
“I am honored and humbled by this decision, and the fact that the commissioners have entrusted me to lead the next chapter of California’s extraordinary coastal legacy,” Ainsworth said. “I want the people of California to know that I will do my best every day to protect the coast for everyone, as will all the staff I work with and have so much respect for. It’s an honor to serve with such an exceptional staff and dedicated group of commissioners.”
Ainsworth’s position is based in San Francisco. He will received a base salary of $165,432 and will lead a staff of 156 employees at six offices from Arcata to San Diego.