December 20, 2015; Buffalo Business First
NPQ published a number of stories during the recession that it seemed that few long-term nonprofit executives were leaving their posts. We speculated that seasoned execs were digging in to see nonprofits through a turbulent period and that the resignations and retirements might come later, once the environment stabilized a bit.
Now, Western N.Y. is the second region where the local press has discussed a rash of resignations or retirements among mid-sized to large nonprofits. In June, we reported that Charleston, S.C. had lost 10 arts executives within a short period and, indeed, in this new report from Western New York, two of the four executives that are leaving local high-profile nonprofits work for arts and culture organizations. As readers remember, those organizations, as a field, were hit hardest by the recession but many of them have since bounced back.
The resignations in Western New York include:
- Anthony Conte will retire from Shea’s Performing Arts Center (annual budget $18 million) in mid-2016 after 15 years. Conte is credited with leading the organization out of debt and not just to stability but renown.
- Barbara Carr (age 67) will retire after 23 years with the SPCA in Erie County (annual budget $7.2 million). She is leaving after helping the organization grow steadily during her tenure and just as a new building will be readied for occupancy.
- Mark Mortenson left the Buffalo Museum of Science ($6.2 million) at the end of September for a post at the Grand Canyon Resort Corp.
- Diane Rowe will retire after 18 years at the end of January from the $4.2 million Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo.
Though we have no indication that any of these departures occurred in a crisis, it is another reminder that planning well in advance for these kinds of transitions is important. Highly competent long-term executives often hold many of the key relationships in nonprofits. Is your staff leadership sufficiently redundant to allow a smooth transition even if little or no notice is given? — Ruth McCambridge