Phenix City Council selected Zara Parham in a 5-0 vote Tuesday evening to serve on the Board of Education, replacing longtime member Florence Bellamy.
Council, which picks the seven-person school board, selected Parham to serve a five-year term over six other candidates. All of the candidates were interviewed Monday by council. Their names were not released.
Councilmember Gail Head, a retired Phenix City Public Schools educator, nominated Parham.
Parham worked for 18 years in the banking business at CB&T Russell County and
Regions. She is currently at Teen Empowerment Awareness with Resolutions Inc., a nonprofit organization with the mission to "treat, inform, empower and encourage youth to make sound healthy decisions."
"She brings a good blend to the board and a love of public education," Head said.
Councilmember Chris Blackshear said he met Parham for the first time in the interview process.
"You could see her compassion for kids," he said. "You can tell she loves Phenix City."
Parham was not at the meeting.
The opening was created when Bellamy resigned earlier this month after 25 years of service.
Her current five-year term was up for reappointment this month, but she informed Phenix City Council she did not want to be considered.
State law requires council appoint new school board members by the end of this month, Mayor Eddie Lowe said.
Lowe and council instituted a new process to select Bellamy's replacement. They had 15-minute interviews with seven candidates in closed session. Council then discussed the candidates, ranked their final three and reached a consensus on Parham, Lowe said.
All of that was done Monday in a closed session. The Alabama open meetings law allows governing bodies to go into closed session to discuss the good name and character of an individual.
"The process worked great," the mayor said.
Parham joins a board that has been under fire after parting ways with former Superintendent Larry DiChiara in November.
DiChiara, a former Alabama Superintendent of the Year, was under a five-year contract at the time he left the board.
DiChiara is currently suing the Board of Education and board members. He claims under the terms of his contract he is owed more than $750,000.