FARGO — Five finalists have been selected to be interviewed to be the new executive director of the Fargo Park District.

The Park Board learned about the candidates at its meeting Tuesday night, Dec. 10., after a five-member committee narrowed the field from 40 applicants to 10, who were then interviewed by video phone calls two weeks ago.

After that first round of interviews, the committee narrowed the list to the five finalists, including current interim director Dave Leker. He took over last July for Joel Vettel, who agreed to a separation agreement with the board but is being paid through Jan. 1.

Leker, who has been with the Fargo department for 20 years, was named deputy director in 2017 before taking over as interim director this past summer. The Grand Forks native also worked for six years as director of parks and recreation for the Beulah (N.D.) Park District before moving to Fargo.

The other four candidates are:

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  • Susan Faus, deputy director of parks and recreation in Bloomington, Minn., which serves 86,000 residents and oversees 94 parks covering 3,000 acres. She is a former Hall of Fame women's basketball player and track athlete for North Dakota State University, who also was an assistant for the Edina parks and rec department and spent 12 years in management for YMCAs in Kentucky and the Twin Cities.
  • Brian Brogan, community services director for Los Alamos County in New Mexico, which works with many departments including parks and the library system. He has worked in the parks and recreation profession for more than 20 years.

  • Dan Keyes, chief administrator for the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District in Fort Bragg, Calif. He has been in the profession for 30 years, also working in Arizona, Wyoming, Alaska, Idaho and Montana. He has ties to the Breckenridge, Minn., area.
  • Jeremy Rogers, assistant director of sports and recreation in Independence, Mo. He was also previously recreation supervisor for Wichita, Kan.

Park Board President Jerry Rostad said all of the finalists had some level of experience as a parks and rec director or deputy.

"I think it's a really strong field," he said.

Vice President Stacey Griggs, who also served on the interview committee, said they methodically went through the applications and scored each of 26 applicants who met the qualifications. She also was impressed with the candidates.

Rostad said the plan is to bring the candidates in for interviews the week of Jan. 13-20, with tours, chances to meet staff, media availability and a community open house. A new director will be named shortly after.