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More job turnover at Florida jobs agency as top official leaves

Another top official at Florida’s economic development agency has left, continuing an exodus of executives from the Department of Economic Opportunity, created by Gov. Rick Scott 18 months ago.

Tom Beck, who was the Director of Community Development at the Department, has left DEO for the Department of Environmental Protection, DEO confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced by William Killingsworth, a former planning official with the City of Jacksonville.

Killingsworth will face a full plate when he lands at the agency later this month.

The Division of Community Development helps run the Black Business Loan Program, which is tied up in litigation after DEO refused to renew the certification for a Central Florida organization. Several officials at DEO are being called in to testify under oath.

DEO has had five different directors—two interim, three permanent—since it launched in late 2011.

One of its directors resigned after a spat with Scott’s chief of staff. Another exited the agency after the Florida Current reported that he had received jobless benefits for nearly two years. Jesse Panuccio was tapped to run the agency in December, and he has begun bringing in his own team of execs. 

Many of the top officials who helped launched DEO in 2011 are no longer with the young agency as it tries to establish itself. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the top officials who have resigned their jobs at the state’s job-creation agency in the last year or so:

Doug Darling, first director
Hunting Deutsch, second director
Cynthia Lorenzo, director of Agency for Workforce Innovation, and interim director
Darrick McGhee, director of legislative affairs and interim director
Nancy Blum , director of communications
Carolyn Gosselin, second director of communications
Debby Kearney, General Counsel
Michael Ayers, Chief of Staff 
James Mathews, Inspector General

Dear DEO Team:

I have some exciting news to share.  Tom Beck, who for twenty-three years has made a tremendous contribution to DEO and DCA, has decided to lend his talents to the Department of Environmental Protection as its new Director of the Office of Water Policy.  This is a loss for DEO, but a gain for the people of Florida, as water policy is a critical area to which Tom will bring wisdom and experience.  Please join me in wishing Tom every success at DEP and in thanking him for his many years of faithful service to DEO and DCA.  Tom’s last day at DEO will be February 15, so if you see him in the halls between now and then, please be sure to congratulate him.

I am also pleased to announce the appointment of William “Bill” Killingsworth to the position of Director of the Division of Community Development. Bill comes to us from the City of Jacksonville, where he has worked for more than twenty years. In his past experience he has served as the Director of the Planning and Development Department, the Chief of Community Planning, as a Principal Planner, GIS Manager, Senior Planner, Planner, and Assistant Planner. Bill is a University of Florida graduate who is certified as an Economic Development Finance Professional and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Bill will start at DEO on February 25. Please join me in welcoming Bill to the DEO team!