Thagard was previously a principal for Marlboro Policy Advisors, a consulting firm specializing in public policy and economic development in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He has also served in Washington, D.C. in the Government Office of Planning.
Thagard said his selection process was intensive and purposeful. It consisted of multiple interviews with panels of employees from various city departments.
The new department is a combination of several distinct entities like housing, public development and economics.
Allison Gray, the current acting director, emphasized the significance of these entities.
“It was really important that these functions existed separately, so it’s important to bring them together to create synergy. After all, we were working with the same customers and clients,” Gray said.
The new department aims to provide affordable housing and support several local community centers, which provide services like career training, emergency repairs to homes and rent assistance.
The Neighborhood Services Department will also work with seven locations in Tarrant County to provide nutritional, athletic and after-school programs for local youth.
Thagard said providing support to “challenged” Fort Worth residents is a major responsibility of both the department and the director.
“Fort Worth is a growing community,” Thagard said. “An important measure to take in this community is to use as much of the available resources to keep the community healthy and safe.”
Thagard predicts his biggest challenge as director will be fostering a corporate culture in the unfamiliar environment.
He is expected to begin work as director on Nov. 30.