Edmonds mayor appoints new HR director

Jessica Neill Hoyson arrives from Skagit County
By Brian Soergel | Aug 08, 2019
Photo by: City of Edmonds Jessica Neill Hoyson

The City of Edmonds has its third Human Resources director in eight years, as Mayor Dave Earling on Aug. 5 appointed Jessica Neill Hoyson to fill the position after the prior HR director, Mary Ann Hardie, resigned in May to take a similar job in Lacey.

Hardie worked for the City for 14 years, and was the director after City Council brought the position back in September 2016. It became vacant in 2011 after a dust-up between then-Mayor Mike Cooper and then-HR director Debi Humann. Humann would go on to win a lawsuit over her termination from the City.

Carrie Hite served as the HR reporting director for the department between 2011 and 2016, while Hardie was the HR manager. Hite was also the City’s director of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural services.

Hite resigned in July to take a similar job in Redmond.

Neill Hoyson’s appointment, although approved by councilmembers, received some pushback from City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas. She said she was concerned that the City’s four mayoral candidates (before Tuesday’s primary) had not had a chance for one-on-one interviews with Neill Hoyson.

There will be a new mayor in January, as Earling is not seeking a third term.

“I have concerns that with a new mayor coming on board they will be able to, of course, hire their own employees, hire their own directors, or maintain directors. I felt that this was perhaps setting (Neill Hoyson) up for maybe a situation that might not be the best.”

Fraley-Monillas said she asked Earling about separate interviews, but said he declined to offer them. She added that candidates told her they wished they could have interviewed Neill Hoyson.

“I am saddened by that,” Fraley-Monillas said, “because I am concerned that come January that could change.”

44 applicants

Of the 44 applications received by the June 16 review date, 24 passed initial screenings and were reviewed by staff, and five were selected for interviews. The interview process involved three rotating panels that included director, management, and staff/union panels.

Earling also interviewed the top-two highly qualified candidates staff recommended. Earling brought both candidates forward to interview with council at the July 9 meeting. That meeting was closed to the public, as per state law.

At that meeting, council also waived the requirement for a third candidate based on staff recommendations. Human Resources staff then completed reference checks, a background investigation that included a seven-year state and federal criminal history, educational verification, credit check, and a driver's abstract review.

"We are delighted to have Jessica on our staff as a director,” Earling said in a news release Tuesday. “Her high quality work at Skagit County and her other places of employment have been exemplary."

Said Neill Hoyson: “I am honored to be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by City Council. Edmonds is a special place, and the City of Edmonds is a great organization, tackling important issues on a daily basis in order to have a positive impact on the residents of Edmonds.

“This work is done by dedicated employees, which was evidenced to me by the level of employee engagement in the HR director hiring process. I am truly fortunate to do something that I love, and I look forward to using my passion for human resources work to serve the community of Edmonds and to support the dedicated City employees who provide important public services to the people of Edmonds.”

Neill Hoyson served as the director of Human Resources and Risk Management. She has experience in labor relations and negotiations, change management, and extensive knowledge of various human resources processes, procedures and compliance issues, the release noted.

Neill Hoyson received her bachelor’s degree in communication and marketing in 1999 from Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania. She also earned a human resources management certification in 2006 from the University of Washington.

She has her senior professional in human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and is a certified labor relations professional through the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association.

Neill Hoyson will begin her duties Monday, Aug. 26. Until then, she will be wrapping up with Skagit County and moving her family closer to Edmonds.


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