A good transition plan

Published 7:06 pm Saturday, April 30, 2016

A few recent changes to the leadership at the Obici Healthcare Foundation demonstrate the continued strength of that organization, the excellence of its formation and the great hopes for its future.

George Y. Birdsong, who has been chairman of the foundation’s board since its inception, recently stepped down in a planned transition. Robert Claud, chairman of the grants committee, and Dr. Jeffrey Forman also completed their service after 10 years.

In addition, three new members have come onto the board, and a new chairman, Sam Glasscock, has taken the helm. Executive Director Gina Pitrone also has stepped down after seven years. An interim executive director has taken her place for the time being.

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In many organizations, such big changes could be harbingers of problems. But for the Obici Healthcare Foundation, they represent — with the possible exception of Pitrone’s departure — a long-expected, intentional and well-planned evolution of leadership.

When the foundation was created in 2006, a plan was set in place for three sets of directors to rotate off its board in nine, 10 and 11 years. Such a rotation ensures that nobody gets burned out from their service and that fresh ideas are always being brought to the table.

For the board to have enough confidence to continue with its plan — even to the point of losing the stalwart service and support of Birdsong, its founding chairman — shows that the foundation’s board members and staff have done an admirable job of preparing for the turnover. And the three new board members — Robert Barclay IV, Priscilla “Pat” Edwards and Dr. Ralph Howell — bring great expertise and talent to the board.

Losing Pitrone might have been unexpected in its timing, but no organization can expect to last forever under a single guiding hand. The fact that the board was able to quickly move to replace Pitrone with an interim director, Angela Light — whose 12 years of experience with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and the Norfolk Foundation give her great experience to bring to Suffolk — shows the Obici foundation was smart about preparing itself for this eventuality, as well.

Since its inception, the Obici Healthcare Foundation has provided nearly $35 million in grant funding to 82 agencies serving 362,000 participants. With solid leadership and financial and transition plans that are clearly well designed, the organization can expect to be helping to improve the health of Western Tidewater for many years to come.