Summit Foundation director fired
BRECKENRIDGE The Summit Foundation board of trustees announced Monday that executive director Debra Edwards will leave the organization on June 30, after nearly 22 years at the foundations helm.A need for new leadership for the countys largest nonprofit organization motivated the board to make the change, board president Larry Beebe said.Debs been doing an outstanding job for 22 years, but after a while, you run out of new approaches, he said. Its always a good idea to get fresh people.Edwards has been with the foundation since 1984 and has overseen its distribution of more than $7 million in grants and scholarships. The expansion and diversification of programs that occurred during Edwards tenure is no longer enough for the 31-member board of trustees, however.Wed like to be able to grow the foundation faster than its growing now, Beebe said. Beebe emphasized the board decision does not imply dissatisfaction with Edwards performance.Its our hope now that a fresh perspective at the helm will build on Debs legacy of excellence while helping us prepare for the challenges of the future, he said.When asked about the board decision, a tearful Edwards refused to comment and instead released a prepared statement.It has been a privilege and an honor to serve the foundation and the community for the past 21 years, she wrote. I am extremely grateful to the donors, sponsors, volunteers and nonprofit organizations who have contributed selflessly in making our community a better place to live, work and play.Summit Foundation donor and supporter Chuck Lenzmeier, whose wife, Valerie Williams, resigned from the board in protest after the decision was made to lay off Edwards, was critical of the trustees decision.I think the board is firing Deb for the wrong reasons, he said Tuesday. Lenzmeier explained that ensuring the financial well-being of any philanthropic organization is the primary responsibility of its trustees. The Summit Foundation board, he observed, has relied on Edwards to raise money for the trustees to allocate. According to Lenzmeier, this is backwards. The pressure to bring the money in should rest on members of the board, not on Edwards.I would agree that they need fresh leadership, but its the board that needs to change, not the executive director, he said. They have substantial goals to grow the organization and I dont think they can do that until the board members do some serious soul-searching about their role and how much work they have to do. Lenzmeier acknowledged Edwards contribution to the day-to-day operation of the nonprofit.It makes me worried about the future of the foundation, he said. Deb has so much knowledge and she understands the groups involved.Summit County Arts Exchange Committee chairperson Sandy Greenhut, who has received thousands of dollars in grant money from the Foundation, agreed that losing Edwards will be a blow to the organization.She was the Summit Foundation, Greenhut said. She always supported me. The board changes, but Deb has always remained the same.Beebe said a search for a new director will begin immediately, and that the foundation will continue to operate as usual during the transition period.Harriet Hamilton can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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