Mayor hires YSU events manager as new downtown director

Published: Sat, October 25, 2014 @ 12:05 a.m.

By David Skolnick


The mayor hired the operations manager of Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center as the city’s coordinator of downtown events and special projects.

Michael McGiffin of Struthers will start the new job Nov. 17. It pays $41,124 per year.

“My biggest passion is trying to get the various [arts and entertainment] entities that are already so strong and have them work closely together,” said McGiffin, who has held the YSU job for the past 31/2 years.

Mayor John A. McNally said a five-member committee he appointed reviewed the 54 applicants seeking the vacant position and recommended McGiffin for the job. McNally said he met with McGiffin and agreed to hire him.

“He will be the liaison for all downtown events and expand the schedule of events,” McNally said. “He’ll also be involved in citywide special projects.”

McGiffin, 27, has worked at his current job since March 2011, overseeing and managing events at Kilcawley Center. Also since March 2011, he’s served as adviser of Penguin Productions, YSU’s event and production entity. In that job, he’s overseen five YSU-sponsored events at the city-owned Covelli Centre, and a few outdoor events.

“He has a very good relationship with the Covelli Centre from the events he’s helped oversee there,” McNally said. “We hope with his connections, he can bring more students downtown and promote the city overall.”

McGiffin added: “I can bring that network I’ve developed with me to this position. I also want to grow the relationship with the university and the city.”

McGiffin received a master’s in education degree in counseling in 2011 and earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations in 2009 from YSU.

The downtown events coordinator position last was held by Lyndsey Hughes, who resigned, effective May 21, as part of a settlement agreement related to her being sexually harassed on the job by DeMaine Kitchen, the former chief of staff/secretary to the mayor and ex-2nd Ward councilman. Hughes received $72,000, and her attorneys got $48,000 as part of that settlement agreement. The city paid $50,000 as its insurance deductible with its insurance company paying the rest.

There was a disagreement between some on city council and McNally about who had control over hiring someone for this position.

By a 4-3 vote Oct. 1, council rejected a proposal to overturn previous legislation giving the mayor that authority.

Even if council approved the ordinance, Law Director Martin Hume had stated numerous times that the city charter allows council to hire only its clerks, and provided a legal opinion reiterating that.

Before this appointment, council selected the person for this job, previously called the Federal Plaza director, for the past 30 years.

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