Collins Center head forced out amid financial troubles
The head of the Collins Center, one of Florida’s most well-respected think tanks, is being asked to resign in the face of serious cash flow troubles and frustration by a board of directors that demanded answers it wasn’t getting.
Rod Petrey, 69, the president of the nonpartisan, nonprofit policy center named after former Florida Gov. LeRoy Collins, will be involuntarily removed at an Aug. 11 meeting of the board unless he accepts a separation agreement before then. The board has voted to replace him temporarily with Merrett Stierheim, the former Miami-Dade county manager who has earned a reputation as an organizational fixer.
Petrey has been president and CEO of the center since 1992 and is credited with building the organization to 45 employees with offices in Miami, Tallahassee, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Sarasota and a budget of $11 million. Over the past two decades, the center has had a role in influencing policy ranging from urban revitalization to elections reform and healthcare to, more recently, providing mediation in mortgage foreclosure disputes.
After Petrey presented the center’s latest budget at a July retreat for new and existing board members, several members vigorously questioned his interpretation of the center’s finances. The center had recently lost a contract to mediate mortgage disputes for Miami-Dade County, and its contract with the federal mortgage bank, Fannie Mae, has resulted in slower than expected payments. Story here.