Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Board shake-up at the PSPCA amid growing financial woes

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Board shake-up at the PSPCA amid growing financial woes

The president of the board of the Pennsylvania SPCA, the state's largest animal welfare organization, has resigned, along with three other board members. A fifth member of the 12-person board has opted not to run for another three-year term.

"Given the current board climate we didn't feel we could perform our prospective duties," said board president Valerie Ogden Phillips, who stepped down earlier this month.

Phillips declined to elaborate on the issues involved with her departure or identify the other board members who also left.

When asked if the resignations were a vote of no confidence in chief executive officer Sue Cosby, Phillips said, "the hiring of Sue was not unanimous. Read it as you want to read it."

Cosby was named CEO of the PSPCA in June 2009. At the time the 142-year-old group was reporting $500,000 a month in losses. In a year Cosby had reduced that figure to $100,000 a month, according to a report in the Daily News.

Cosby survived a board dispute later that year that led to the departure of board president Harrise Yaron and her sister, Jodi Goldberg.

Phillips had served on the PSPCA's board since 1998 and was named president in April 2010.

"The main thing is, the PSPCA needs money," said Phillips, who served on the Mayor's Animal Advisory Board and was also a member of the board of PACCA, the now-defunct group that ran animal control for the city.

The mass resignation comes as the PSPCA struggles to combat financial troubles that forced the closure this month of a satellite shelter in Wellsboro and led to dozens of layoffs in the Philadelphia headquarters and elsewhere in the state.

In addition, the PSPCA's contract with the city to provide animal control services expires at the end of June. Cosby has said the PSPCA has no plans to pull out of animal control but conversations are ongoing with the mayor's staff about the future of the contract.

Cosby praised the exiting board members as individuals who have "dedicated almost thirty years of combined service and remain strong supporters of the organization."

The organization's chief financial officer, Mario Porro, who was named to the position by Cosby last year, also resigned this month. Cosby said Porro's departure is unrelated to the board matter and that he will continue to work until a replacement is found.

The PSPCA, which has maintained a much lower profile under Cosby than it did under her predecessor, Howard Nelson, gained national attention this month busting what may have been the largest dog fighting ring in Philadelphia history.

Inquirer Staff Writer
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Amy Worden Inquirer Staff Writer
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