By Nicholas Johnson

The Burien City Council will choose between two women-owned consulting firms to lead its search for a new city manager after whittling down its initial applicant pool of five firms Monday night (Jan. 31, 2022).

Staff will conduct background checks on GovHRUSA and WBCP, Inc. before the council’s next meeting on Feb. 7, at which time the council could select one of the two finalists or schedule interviews with them before making a selection.

Once a firm is selected, up to three yet-to-be-designated councilmembers will work with staff to negotiate a contract with the selected firm, who will then begin recruiting candidates for the city manager position. The council could select a new city manager by late May before negotiating an employment contract and a start date.

The Illinois-based GovHRUSA has 17 years of experience and works exclusively in the public and nonprofit sectors. Its services would cost $23,500, according to its proposal, and its vice president, Ryan Cotton, who splits his time between Seattle and Michigan, would manage the search.

“Our firm was founded on and rooted in a desire to increase the diversity of local government leaders,” GovHRUSA wrote in its proposal, noting that it works with and supports several the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, the Local Government Hispanic Network, the League of Women in Government and the Emerging Local Government Leaders. “Involvement with these organizations assists us in developing a highly qualified, diverse candidate pool for each executive recruitment.”

GovHRUSA’s search would be completed in 91-98 days, according to its proposal. If a city manager they recruited resigns or is terminated within the first year of employment, GovHRUSA guarantees it will recruit a replacement “for the cost of expenses and announcements only,” according to its proposal.

The Oregon-based WBCP, Inc. has more than 20 years of experience and an office along Des Moines Memorial Drive in Burien. Its services would cost $24,500 plus $5,500-$7,900 for travel, brochure and advertising expenses.

“Upon our 2021 year-end review, we found that over the last three years, 62% of our applicants and 56% of candidates placed in leadership positions with our clients came from diverse backgrounds,” WBCP, Inc. wrote in its proposal. “We will make extensive efforts to attract a qualified applicant pool that represents a broad range of gender and ethnically diverse individuals.”

WBCP, Inc.’s search would be completed in under 90 days, according to its proposal. If a city manager they recruited resigns within the first two years of employment, WBCP, Inc. guarantees it will recruit a replacement at no cost aside from additional expenses, according to its proposal.

All submitted proposals can be reviewed here.


Nicholas Johnson (he/him) is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who grew up in Boulevard Park, graduated from Highline High School and studied journalism at Western Washington University. Send news tips, story ideas and positive vibes to