Marking the fourth transition at a major Ventura County nonprofit in less than a month, Steve Kinney, the founding president of EDCO, the economic development group for Oxnard, said he will step down on Sept. 1.
Kinney will be replaced by longtime operations director Elizabeth Callahan, who joined the Economic Development Corp. of Oxnard two years after it was formed in 1994. “Having shepherded the organization through 20 years and myself through 65,” wrote Kinney in a letter released to the public, “it seems a fitting time to pass the mantle of leadership.”
In stepping down, Kinney joins outgoing Ventura County Community Foundation chief Hugh Ralston, United Way’s Dave Smith and Boys & Girls Club of Oxnard and Port Hueneme director Tim Blaylock as a generational shift in non-profit leadership gets under way.
Callahan will have the title of Interim President, beginning Sept. 1. EDCO Chair Richard Green, head of Sunbelt Enterprises, said he was “confident that she will build our needed support bases in both the public and private sectors here in Oxnard.”
The region’s largest city formed the organization 20 years ago as a public-private partnership to spearhead economic development. Its major successes include the RiverPark commercial and residential development, the delayed but now on-again revitalization of the Wagon Wheel area along Highway 101 and the newly formed Oxnard Plains Industrial Association to bolster the fortunes of local manufacturers.
EDCO came under fire in 2011 for some of its spending habits. The organization had been getting about half its budget, $330,500 a year, from the city of Oxnard and the rest from the private sector. At the height of the recession, private sector contributions fell, and the proportion of government support rose, triggering requirements for board members to file conflict-of-interest disclosures and adhere to spending limits on business lunches. Five board members resigned rather than file the disclosures after Oxnard attorney Fred Rosenmund filed a public records request that revealed thousands of dollars in public funds spent wining and dining business leaders in faraway locales in Texas, Georgia and Arizona.