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Published: Tuesday, 4/1/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

Toledo public utilities chief is leaving for ProMedica

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Whitney Whitney
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Toledo’s director of public utilities, one of Mayor D. Michael Collins’ few top female officials, plans to resign and take a job at ProMedica.

Robin Whitney, 50, who was commissioner of engineering services under the Bell administration, was promoted to run the massive public utilities department by Mayor Collins when he took office three months ago.

Ms. Whitney announced her April 23 resignation to Toledo councilmen at an agenda-review meeting Tuesday.

She is paid $92,500 by the city.

There are 14 directors in the city of Toledo; however, Mayor Collins plans to downgrade the information-technology department position, city spokesman Lisa Ward said.

Valerie Robertson, Toledo’s IT director, is expected to retire at the end of May. Of the remaining 13 directors, all are male.

Ms. Whitney’s title at ProMedica will be vice president for property acquisition and development; she will be in charge of major new projects.

“The major new projects that they’re doing, like the downtown headquarters and some of the other initiatives in the Colony area, will probably be my first projects out of the chute,” Ms. Whitney said.

“I had heard about the opportunity through a professional friend that told me about the opportunity, so I reached out to some of the people that I knew at ProMedica and just kind of one thing led to the next. It was a new opportunity they were trying to right fit.”

Randy Oostra, ProMedica’s president and chief executive, announced in February the company would purchase and renovate the vacant Steam Plant downtown to consolidate 700 employees in the building and the adjacent Key-Bank building on Summit Street. The project could cost up to $40 million and start in 2016.

Ms. Whitney said one of her jobs will be getting a parking garage built on the old federal building site at Promenade Park. “I have my challenges cut out for me,” she said.

Ms. Whitney said her decision had nothing to do with the Collins administration.

“Everybody at the city has been great to work with. The team is fantastic,” she said. “It is a way to continue to give back to the community. I’m going to be involved in some pretty exciting things where I hope I can continue to work with the city to make them happen.”

Mayor Collins said Ms. Whitney’s resignation would be a loss to his administration.

“I have the utmost confidence that the relationship with her new employer will be a value added to the city as the hospital moves forward with the Colony project and the downtown project,” he said.

“She understands the mechanics of government, and we should be able to have a solid working relationship as ProMedica moves on with its economic development plans.”

The mayor said he will decide soon whether to search internally or nationally for Ms. Whitney’s successor.

Ms. Whitney started working for the city in January, 2010. In February, 2013, she became the commissioner of the Toledo Waterways Initiative.

As director, she is also in charge of Toledo’s federal consent decree on sewer lines, drinking-water plan projects, water department customer service, engineering, and the waterline replacement program.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.



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