March 28, 2008
By GINNY WRAY AND PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writers
Maintaining the continuity of the Harvest Foundation’s work following Tuesday’s resignation of its executive director is the key focus of the foundation’s interim director.
Allyson Rothrock, assistant executive director, was named interim executive director following the resignation of Richard Killingsworth, effective Tuesday.
“... Continuity is important. Our work with this community has always been the most important thing to me. Though it was a shock, we will continue on. For his (Killingsworth’s) work here, I hope we will be a stronger organization. That is my plan,” Rothrock added.
She plans to start meeting immediately with the foundation’s “partners” to assure them that Harvest’s work will continue. Those partners include grant recipients and officials with Henry County, Martinsville, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., Chamber of Commerce and other groups and agencies Harvest works with.
“It’s really about our community partners and staff, keeping everyone together, on the same track and informed,” she added.
Harvest board Chairman Bob Davis held a staff meeting Wednesday to announce the resignation, Rothrock said.
“I was shocked,” she said. “The staff did not expect it.”
A release from Harvest stated that Killingsworth resigned “to relocate for professional and family reasons.” Davis would not elaborate on that.
Killingsworth said later Wednesday that his family likely will return to the Midwest, where they have extended family. Also, his father, who has had medical problems, is there, he said, adding that he was under no pressure from the board to leave.
Rothrock said she preferred to let Killingsworth explain why he left the foundation. But, she said, he was not forced to leave.
Board member Dr. Leonard S. Poirier said Thursday he had been out of town for a few weeks and returned to find out about Killingsworth’s resignation. “As far as I know it was voluntary,” Poirier said, adding that he was sorry to see him leave.
“I think he had a good picture of what we’re trying to do — improve the quality of life for citizens of Martinsville and Henry County, improve their lives” and attract new business and people to the area, Poirier said. “Somebody who has that shared vision would be good.”
Among the other board members, James McClain II declined to comment; Simone H. Redd, treasurer, and Martha Medley, secretary, referred questions to Davis; and a spokesman for Dr. W.D. Prince III said Prince referred questions to Rothrock.
Board members Gracie R. Agnew, Joseph A. Roach, Vice President Paul B. Toms Jr., Donald R. Hodges, Douglas I. Payne and Marshall W. Stowe did not return calls.
Poirier said he had not had time to think of how the foundation would find Killingsworth’s successor, but added he would consider Rothrock if she was interested in the job.
Rothrock is in her third stint as interim director of the foundation. She said Thursday she has not had time to think about whether she wants the director’s job. “It’s only been 48 hours,” she added.
She also said she was not aware of any board discussion of how to search for a new director, and she could not speculate on whether it would take a year to fill the job as it did when Killingsworth was hired.
Rothrock believes the Harvest Foundation is stronger for Killingsworth’s work. The foundation was created from the proceeds of the sale of Memorial Health Systems in 2002 to invest in health, education and welfare initiatives in this area
“He introduced very strong programs,” she said of Killingsworth, such as the Activate Martinsville-Henry County program which encourages fitness in the community.
Killingsworth also improved the foundation’s communications with the public and was guiding a redesign of its Web site, which should be completed within 30 days, Rothrock said.
“The new site will be tremendously helpful to nonprofit partners in the community and region,” she said, adding it will have a lot of resources, data, demographic information, links to other sites and ways to look for funding. “It will be a great tool for everyone.”
Foundation business will continue as scheduled, Rothrock said. The next grant meeting will be held May 8, and the groundbreaking for the new soccer complex is planned April 5.
After that is under way, planning and designing work on the arena in uptown Martinsville will begin, she said.
She has been the lead person on those projects, so Killingsworth’s departure should not affect them, Rothrock said.
Harvest has seven employees and will have three interns this summer. Rothrock said they will see that the foundation’s work is not interrupted.
“The staff came together and said we’re going to make it through this, and we are going to make it through this. We need the community to rally behind us and help get there. We have a very competent staff. They are more than willing to do their part to pull it all together,” she added.
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