Juanita Greene, executive director of the city's Board of Community Relations since 2001, has informed Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's administration that she will retire at the end of the month.
Mr. Finkbeiner hired Ms. Greene, first as his housing commissioner, then economic development director in 2000 before making her executive director of the board in 2001. While campaigning for mayor in October, though, he criticized the BCR and then-Mayor Jack Ford for their performance after the October riot in North Toledo.
Ms. Greene defended the board's efforts to bring the North Toledo community together after the riot. She could not be reached for comment.
Robert Reinbolt, Mr. Finkbeiner's chief of staff, said his office received a letter from Ms. Greene on Jan. 13 informing them of her retirement as of Jan. 31. He said the city is interviewing four candidates, all outside city government. He said he hopes to have someone in the job within 30 days.
Olivia Holden, executive director of Assets Toledo and BCR board president, said Ms. Greene was a tireless worker and was well liked on the board.
"She gave 150 percent," Ms. Holden said. "When people had left and gone to bed, she was still there working. She did these things and never asked for any accolades. That's what was so special about her."
Deborah Barnett, a vice president at Huntington Bank and a member of the Toledo Board of Education, said she believes Ms. Greene's work with the city will continue on a volunteer basis.
"She is not retiring from the community," said Ms. Barnett, a former BCR board president. "She was doing things in this community long before I arrived here. It's in her blood."
Ms. Greene helped merge two events honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., into one in 2002, much of it through private funds and donations. The celebration, which drew 3,300 people to the University of Toledo's Savage Hall on Monday, is one of the largest events honoring Mr. King in northwest Ohio.
Calvin Lawshe, a former UT administrator who has worked with Ms. Greene during the MLK Unity Celebrations, said he expects her continued involvement in the event. "She's given me no indication that she won't be," Mr. Lawshe said.
Board member Lisa Rice said Ms. Greene was determined to meet goals set by the board despite losing staffers through budget cuts by the Finkbeiner and Ford administrations.
"She just had a tremendous work ethic," said Ms. Rice, who is president of the Fair Housing Center. "We owe a debt of gratitude to her. Despite all of her budget cuts, she was determined to make all of her goals, and she did year after year, even when it was only her in the office."
Mr. Lawshe said Ms. Greene's efforts have set the bar high for the next executive director.
"I think BCR is going to have to fill a big void," Mr. Lawshe said. "I don't think Toledo realizes what it's missing. We're in a flux of change right now in the city. That won't come without some bumps, but bumps heal so we have to be about the business of doing that."
Ms. Greene worked in the banking industry for 34 years, leaving KeyBank for a position with the city in 2000.
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