TAMPA — Hillsborough County's former Head Start director didn't have to travel far for his new job.
Louis Finney has moved to a different office in the same W Waters Avenue plaza as his old workplace to take over as vice president of Head Start/Early Head Start services for Lutheran Services Florida.
Lutheran Services runs an Early Head Start program in Hillsborough County and provides Head Start services in Belle Glade. It recently announced that it has won a contract to provide both programs in Pinellas County, sharply increasing the number of children it will serve from 338 to 1,675.
"Our strategic model is to hire subject matter experts," said Matthew Rosen, human resources vice president for Lutheran Services. "Louis is a former Head Start kid. He knows his stuff very, very well."
The move came with a pay raise. Finney will receive an annual salary of $125,000, about $30,000 more than what he was making with the county, where he directed a program that served about 3,400 children.
Finney led the county program for eight years, overseeing an increase in enrollment and a budget of $39 million. He resigned unexpectedly May 3, effective immediately, to begin his new job with Lutheran Services last week.
The county's 19 Head Start centers each received national accreditation and the program has won state and national recognition while reducing waiting lists to get into the program. But Finney also received some scrutiny.
One of his managers faced an accusation of approving the purchase of books written by the manager's wife. Finney also received counseling for renting space at low cost from a company run by someone who served on a Head Start advisory committee and for operating a county vehicle without a valid Florida driver's license.
Head Start and Early Head Start are government-funded programs that provide education and social services to preschool-aged children from low-income families.