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Rockdale announces finalists for community relations director

CONYERS -- Rockdale County announced two finalists for its community relations director to replace Erica Fatima, who resigned in September.

The two finalists are both Rockdale County residents. Tonya Parker is director of Further Development LLC, a real estate company based out of Portland, Ore., specializing in distressed residential properties. Alicia Cardwell-Brown is a community liaison manager for the Live Healthy DeKalb Coalition. The coalition is the community arm of the DeKalb County Board of Health that engages in outreach efforts on health issues.

According to the statement released Wednesday announcing the finalists, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners is expected to select a finalist at its next voting session on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

The county received 61 applications for the position. The Human Resources office submitted four finalists, but two withdrew their names for consideration, according to Rockdale County Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon.

The position serves as the spokesperson for the county government. The duties of the job were expanded and title changed in 2010 to director of community affairs and innovative programs. The department also manages content on the county's Web site and the government cable television channel Rockdale 23.

The position became open when Fatima resigned suddenly. The county released her resignation letter dated Sept. 22 a week after it was submitted. No reason was given for Fatima's departure. She completed her last two weeks working remotely from home.

Both Parker and Cardwell-Brown have extensive public relations and marketing experience listed in their resumes.

Parker worked as a freelance writer for a local newspaper and has worked for other newspapers including the Statesman Journal in Salem, Ore., and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Parker also has experienced in housing and community development, including stints with the city of Portland's housing and community development bureau in Oregon and as a senior deputy director for Fannie Mae's Oregon Community Business Center.

She also served from 1999 to 2001 as a legislative liaison to Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten. Sten established Further Development in 2008 with Parker and others.

Parker holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism with a minor in English from the University of Oregon. She earned a masters in business administration from George Fox University in Newberg, Ore.

Cardwell-Brown has worked for the DeKalb County Board of Health since 2006. She worked in the recruitment office at Georgia Perimeter College from 2004 to 2006. She also operated her own public relations firm, Cardwell-Brown & Associates and lists Turner Broadcasting and the city of Atlanta among her clients.

She has also worked for the Carter Presidential Center from 1996 to 1998 and served as the center's communications manager. Cardwell-Brown also worked for Turner Broadcasting as co-creator and managing producer of the TBS Trumpet Awards, an awards program recognizing outstanding African-American achievement in the areas of science, medicine, music, sports and art, according to her resume.

Cardwell-Brown holds a bachelor of science degree in communications with a minor in public relations from Boston University.