Thu04242014

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GreenTown addresses growing pains with new management structure

Despite the unexpected resignation of Executive Director Kacey Fitzpatrick last month, a new organizational direction assures that GreenTown Los Altos is adequately prepared to make the transition, according to several core members.

Interim Director Arnold Ambiel said the group’s management structure, developed under a nine-month Organizational Effectiveness project funded by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, allows GreenTown’s principal volunteers to have more input in the decision-making process, most of which was originally left solely to Fitzpatrick.

The three-year plan, a “shared leadership model” officially adopted last month, divides the workload by formally establishing departmental committees, including five new ones, chaired by specific members of the Core Team. The eight-person group of volunteers will meet weekly with the executive director and act as GreenTown’s primary decision-making body.

“The biggest problem was that Kacey only had 24 hours in a given day,” said Curt Riffle, former GreenTown board member. “What we wanted to do was provide more of a team approach and make it so that the organization was something that is also financially sustainable as well.”

When Fitzpatrick founded GreenTown in 2007, she concurrently served as CEO of an eco-friendly residential design firm, Avalon Enterprises. Her initial vision only involved, at most, a nine-month commitment to “kick-start a movement.”

Failing to anticipate the level and rate at which the grassroots non-profit would grow, Fitzpatrick put Avalon on hold as she devoted full-time resources to GreenTown in 2008.

But Riffle said Fitzpatrick was open to the possibility of a short-term tenure as executive director, which in part guided the reorganization – the only surprise was how soon the transition came.

“I knew I wanted to get back to design and construction,” Fitzpatrick said. “(But) I wanted to see the organization through to a strong place, and I feel that now is a good time to step down.”

Ambiel, the first person Fitzpatrick notified of her intent to resign, said the founder wanted to wait until GreenTown could stand on its “own two feet.”

While administrative direction may have changed, GreenTown’s lead volunteers said the group’s top priorities – reducing energy and water consumption, lowering the city’s waste production and encouraging residents to increase their use of sustainable modes of transportation – have not.

In the meantime, GreenTown has formed a search committee to find Fitzpatrick’s permanent replacement.

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