Read the full article on Commercial Appeal. Featured Photo Credit: Nikki Boertman, The Commercial Appeal.
Once he was a U.S. Navy captain. Today he’s Mayor Jim Strickland’s chief operating officer.
He’s Douglas McGowen, the senior leader in City Hall least known among Memphis residents even though he has played a key role in shaping the city.
“Doug has driven a lot of the things that have happened to make Memphis a great place in the last five years,’’ said Kerry Hayes, a former member of the Innovation Delivery Team, a think tank in City Hall.
What the city has in the Pennsylvania native is a former jet fighter pilot with Afghan war experience, exceptional organizational skills, an unusual insight into the fabric of Memphis and a footnote in naval aviation history.
When the first F/A-18F Super Hornet jets were sent out a decade ago to the forward-deployed squadrons – the guys and gals trained to fight if, say, North Korea fired a missile at America — the first $98 million-per-plane Super Hornets went to VFA-102, the Navy strike fighter squadron stationed at Atsugi, Japan. McGowen commanded VFA-102.
Since 2005 he’s been here, brought in for his final command at the 1,500-acre Millington base that serves as the Navy’s global personnel center. Today, he’s the go-to manager in City Hall for daily operations.