RENO — Former Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority head Ellen Oppenheim has been named the interim senior vice president of finance and administration and chief operating officer for Desert Research Institute.
This comes at the end of Oppenheim’s six-month agreement with the RSCVA to stay with the agency as a consultant. Oppenheim resigned her position as the agency’s director in February.
The announcement also comes just days after Oppenheim’s chosen replacement at the RSCVA, Mark White, told the board of directors he was turning down the job in favor of maintaining his family’s roots in Salt Lake City. White works for Visit Salt Lake, a tourism agency in Utah.
“Ellie has extensive leadership experience in government, the corporate world, and higher education,” Dr. Stephen Wells, DRI president, said in a press release. “She has been responsible for a wide range of programs, services, and facilities,” “I believe her experience in the public sector, the local community and higher education will serve DRI well.”
In February, Oppenheim resigned her post at the RSCVA, stating that her mother’s health problems were “touch and go,” and that she needed to be available to her at any moment. Her mother lived in Texas at the time.
Oppenheim also has held executive positions at both Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has also been deputy city chief operating officer and deputy city manager for the city of San Diego; general manager for the parks and recreation department in Los Angeles; and director of convention, cultural and visitor services in San Jose, Calif. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As an interim hire, Oppenheim will be replacing Dr. Cleve McDaniel, who is leaving DRI to be the vice chancellor for finance and administration at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
DRI will be conducting a national search for the permanent position.