As Toledo's community development corporation groups are bracing themselves to fight for their share of federal community development block grant funding from the city, two of the groups' most influential leaders have moved on in their careers.
Christy Fletcher, executive director of Organizing Neighbors Yielding eXcellence, moved to Atlanta, where she will work as a senior developer in the city's housing bureau.
Kathleen Kovacs, the past president of the Toledo CDC Alliance, stayed closer to home, moving from Neighborhoods In Partnership to the Toledo office of Local Initiatives Support Corp. as a program officer.
The two moves muddy the already cloudy waters of community development corporations in Toledo, where grant money from the city has been drying up for the last two years while city officials have been stepping up the pressure on some of the groups to merge.
“While we think the staff is vitally important, we believe the continuity of these organizations are with their boards and neighborhoods,” said Steve Seaton, the city's director of development. “These two groups have been around for a long time, and we believe they will be able to weather the transition in leadership.”
Mr. Seaton said applications for community development block grant money were received last week. Those applications will be reviewed by staff, a citizens review committee, and the mayor before recommendations are made to Toledo City Council.
“We wouldn't penalize any groups because they are having a change in leadership,” Mr. Seaton said. “We're sure those executive directors had a lot of input in those applications before they left.”
Hugh Grefe, senior program officer with the Local Initiatives Support Corp. - one of the major funding providers for community development corporations - said the departures of Ms. Fletcher and Ms. Kovacs are a reflection of their success and their organizations' success.
“We've had about a half-dozen executive directors leave over the past 21/2 years, but nearly all of those have been on the job a long time with some success,” Mr. Grefe said. “That experience is going to be missed.”
Ms. Fletcher, 37, said she's been with ONYX 11 years.
“I grew up at ONYX and people here are like family to me, but I knew this was an opportunity I really couldn't pass up and I hope to take what I've learned here and expand upon it in Atlanta,” she said.
WilliAnn Moore, president of the ONYX board of directors, said Ms. Fletcher helped in securing more than $20 million for ONYX, which encompasses much of Toledo's central city.
In 2002, ONYX was recognized by the Ohio CDC Association as the Mature CDC of the Year.
“It saddens us to learn of her departure,” Mrs. Moore said, “but we are proud to say that she has given many years of service.
“Under Ms. Fletcher's leadership, ONYX has become one of the most outstanding and respected community development corporations in the city of Toledo and the state of Ohio,” she said.
Deborah Younger, Toledo's former economic development director, will work with ONYX on an interim basis until the board hires a new executive director.
Neighborhoods In Partnership, which recently agreed to take on the administrative duties of the Toledo Olde Towne Community Organization, is searching for an executive director.
“We work closely with LISC and Kathleen's experience will continue to be felt here,” Mr. Seaton said. “They have a wonderful board and will be able to bring in a good executive director.”