Thrower appointed as new Southampton admin

Published 6:33 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 during its Tuesday, April 26, meeting to appoint Brian S. Thrower as the county’s new administrator.

Brian S. Thrower

Drewryville District Supervisor Dallas O. Jones and Berlin/Ivor District Supervisor Christopher D. Cornwell Sr. were not present for the meeting, but Jerusalem District Supervisor and Board Chairman Dr. Alan W. Edwards said support for Thrower from the board was unanimous, including Jones and Cornwell.

Edwards noted during the meeting that the board had been involved in the hiring process since mid-December.

“(We’ve) gone through the usual steps,” he said. “Very complicated, intricate process, and we have slowly, over those months, with interviews and advisement from the company that we chose, which is Developmental Associates out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, we finally came up and signed somebody.”

Thrower, 45, has been working in city or town management since 2000, and he is currently manager of the town of Crewe.

The need for a new county administrator in Southampton arose when Michael W. Johnson, the current county admin, announced to the board Sept. 28 that he would be retiring from the position at the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2022.

Johnson has been the Southampton County administrator since January 1996.

Like Johnson, Thrower is a native of the county. He lived in Scottswood, about a half mile outside the Franklin city limits, and he graduated from Franklin High School.

“Man, it’s a great feeling,” Thrower said, describing his reaction to the news of receiving the Southampton County admin role. “I’m very excited about coming back home and serving my hometown community, so it’s been extremely great news to hear that the board has entrusted me and appointed me county administrator.”

Edwards provided insight into the Board of Supervisors’ thinking as it went through the process of hiring an administrator.

“In this situation, we need a jack of all trades, so to speak, somebody that can do everything,” he said. 

He noted that Southampton County is not a big system where the administrator can afford to delegate authority to a lot of people.

“We don’t have the capability of that,” Edwards said. “Mike here can do just about anything, so this individual (Thrower) seems to fit that mold that we want.”

Edwards said the county contracted Developmental Associates LLC in mid-December, and the firm started by advertising the county admin position nationally.

“They took whatever numbers they got and put them through their process and weeded out the ones they knew wouldn’t work and finally came down to five,” Edwards said. “And then we interviewed, virtually, all five.”

He said Developmental Associates put the candidates through their evaluation process, which included psychological analysis, seeing what they would do in stressful situations.

Then the board evaluated the candidates, posing the same questions to each one and comparing the results.

Edwards said the board asked some tough questions about topics that included solar facilities and Critical Race Theory.

“Then we came up with a grading scale, and we came out with two that were very good, and it was a tough decision,” Edwards said. “Either one of them I think would have been OK with us. In fact, I know it would have been OK with us.

“I think Mr. Thrower won out because he was extremely familiar with the county, growing up here,” Edwards said. “He’s a hometown boy who wanted to come back here, and I think he’s always wanted to come back here, and I think it’s a golden opportunity for him to come back here and really establish himself and really do something.”

Edwards affirmed that all seven board members were active in the hiring process that ended with Thrower as the selection.

“It was unanimous on the board, all seven,” he said. “There wasn’t any dissension.”

Thrower earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and sociology from Virginia Tech, along with a Master of Public Administration degree. He also graduated from the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia in the summer of 2010.

He received local government student internships from August 1997-June 2000.

From July 2000-June 2002, he served as a management assistant in the city manager’s office in Charlotte, North Carolina, directly assisting city management and the Charlotte City Council.

From June 2002-April 2006, he was a business relations manager in the Office of Economic Development for the city of Lynchburg.

Thrower said the previous work experience that he thinks prepared him most for the Southampton County admin role was when he managed the city of Emporia. He started there in May 2006 as the assistant city manager and then stepped into the city manager role starting in 2007.

“I was in Emporia for about 12 years, so I would say, by far, my experience as Emporia city manager for that length of time really gave me the expertise and experience I needed to move forward in local government management and city management, town management and now county management,” he said.

In Emporia, he managed a 110-employee municipality and $30 million budget, overseeing various projects.

From July 2018-October 2019, he was the town manager of Smithfield, and he has been the town manager in Crewe since January 2020.

Thrower indicated that the key appeal to Southampton County administrator job was the ability to come back home and to be able to spend more time with his children, who attend Southampton Academy.

“So, yeah, the main thing was the ability to come back home, serve my hometown, be with my friends and the folks I grew up with and all the good community members …,” he said. “I want to join a lot of civic groups and organizations and be very active in the community.”

Thrower’s resumé highlights his extensive experience with different professional and civic organizations.

Edwards concluded the discussion of Thrower’s appointment during the April 26 meeting by saying, “He will start officially on June 1, and Mr. Johnson and Mr. Thrower will be working in a transition period there for approximately a month, so there won’t be any gaps in the care of the county.”