The former city manager of Webster Groves, Mo., a city with a population of 23,230 residents and a $31 million operating budget, was hired last week by Reston Association's Board of Directors to serve as RA's top executive.
Milton Matthews, who has also worked in an executive position at a St. Louis seminary of the United Church of Christ, was hired after a unanimous vote by RA's board Thursday night in a closed meeting.
Matthews said his broad background in local government administration has equipped him to serve RA's members well.
"I'm a very results-oriented person," he said. "And that's important because people will expect me to get things done."
Reston's homeowners association has been searching for a new executive vice president since June, when Gerald Volloy stepped down to work for a new division of Lexis Nexis that provides data-mining technology to U.S. intelligence agencies.
RA received more than 150 applications over the summer, which were whittled down to five by a three-member committee of RA's board. After several rounds of interviews with the board and senior RA staff members, Matthews emerged as the logical choice, said Rick Beyer, president of the RA board.
"He had overwhelming experience in terms of managing a city," Beyer said. "He handled everything from parks and recreation to having the police chief report to him, to working with an elected council. He was the clear choice."
THOUGH MATTHEWS has spent most of the last 25 years in the St. Louis area, he is originally from Accomack County on Virginia's Eastern Shore. He received his undergraduate degree in government and history from Virginia Union University in Richmond and went on to earn his master's of public administration from Syracuse University.
From 1976 to 1984, he worked in various government jobs in Syracuse, N.Y., Illinois and Dallas, Texas. In 1984, he was hired as an assistant town manager in Wethersfield, Conn., overseeing the town government's daily operations and services for its 26,240 residents.
Three years later, he was hired as the assistant city manager for finance and administration for Webster Groves, serving as the city's chief financial officer, personnel officer, risk manager and acting city manager.
In 1995, Matthews was promoted to the top non-elected position in Webster Groves. While city manager, he oversaw 225 municipal employees in seven departments — police, fire and emergency medical, finance and administration, planning and development, parks and recreation, and law.
After he left that position six years later, he became the vice president for administration at Eden Theological Seminary, a progressive school for United Church of Christ graduate students.
In all, Matthews said he has held top positions in different localities for more than 22 years, serving populations ranging from 1,200,000 to 23,230, according to his resume.
ONCE MATTHEWS becomes better acquainted with Reston, he will face some significant issues when he starts work with RA early next month.
He will need to quickly get up to speed on the organization's comprehensive governing documents review, RA's efforts to purchase a new 20,000-square-foot headquarters, and long-range planning for RA's parks and recreation, said RA Board Member and former RA Executive Vice President Vicky Wingert (at large).
"He'll have to be a strong leader on these issue," she said. "All these things are already in the works, but haven't come to closure yet."
RA Spokeswoman Karen Monaghan said it appears Matthew's experience translates nicely into leading RA and, judging from his interviews with senior RA staff members, he will be well-respected.
"It seems he has a wealth of knowledge in so many areas," Monaghan said. "He seems like the right fit for Reston."
IN THE COMING MONTHS, Matthews will have to move to Reston from his temporary home in Silver Spring, Md.
But Reston is far from new to RA's new top executive, according to a letter he sent to RA in July after he saw an advertisement in the Washington Post.
"From my days in government class as a high school senior on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and continuing throughout my career in local government management, I have followed with considerable interest the development of Reston," he said. "I believe that the concept upon which Reston has evolved is just as intriguing today, as it was when it first emerged as an option for urban development."
Also, Matthews was invited to interview for RA's top position in September 2000, though he declined because his wife has just accepted a job in St. Louis.