Penny Postoak Ferguson named new Johnson County manager

Penny Postoak Ferguson is Johnson County’s new county manager.

Penny Postoak Ferguson, who has been serving in the role on an interim basis the past six month, was today appointed Johnson County’s new county manager.

Postoak Ferguson is a veteran of county government, having started as an assistant county manager overseeing human services here in 2010. In 2012 she was promoted to deputy county manager. She became interim county manager in January following the board of county commissioner’s move not to renew the contract of Hannes Zacharias late last year.

The board of county commissioners voted unanimously to approve Postoak Ferguson’s appointment to the position this morning. Her contract is effective July 15, 2018 through Sept. 15, 2019 “with an intent to renew for two years,” according to the county’s press release.

“We have witnessed Ms. Postoak Ferguson’s capabilities during the past six months of her interim role,” Board Chair Ed Eilert said in the release. “Successes during this period include presenting a proposed 2019 budget with a rollback in the mill levy, launch of construction on the new Johnson County Courthouse and the kickoff of major improvements to the Tomahawk Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility.”

The county had initially considered holding a national executive search to find candidates for the position — a process that could have cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Eilert indicated Thursday that the board had decided against an executive search upon considering Postoak Ferguson’s fitness for the role on a full-term basis.

“As a result of reviewing the performance of Ms. Postoak Ferguson as the Interim County Manage since Jan.1, the commission’s decision was made not to pursue a national search,” Eilert said.

Zacharias, who was recently named to a teaching post at KU starting next year, received more than $100,000 in severance pay after being dismissed last fall. His ouster attracted national attention given the county’s track record of high rankings for quality of life during his tenure.

A native of Lawrence, Postoak Ferguson spent time working for the administration of the city of San Antonio, Texas, prior to taking her position with Johnson County. She is a member of the Choctaw Tribe of Oklahoma. She attended college at Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas, where she received her bachelor’s degree in business administration and her master’s degree in public administration.