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Reston Association’s Board Selects New Acting CEO As Search to Fill Top Position Begins

by Fatimah Waseem February 27, 2018 at 7:15 pm 50 Comments

An acting CEO has been named a day after an announcement that Reston Association’s CEO and longtime RA staff member Cate Fulkerson is stepping down from her position.

Robert Wood will take over as the search for a permanent CEO begins. Wood, RA’s Chief Financial Officer, has been with the association a little over three years.

Prior to joining RA, he was director of accounting operations and Opower, which was acquired by Oracle, and held financial consulting roles at Deloitte, according to a press release. He is also a certified public accountant fraud examiner.

Beginning Thursday, Fulkerson will transition into “a special adviser role.”

It is still unclear why Fulkerson resigned. Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, indicated there was a strained relationship between the current board and Fulkerson.

A spokesperson for RA declined to release any information other than what was already indicated in a press release on Monday.

“Beyond the formal release/statement issued by Reston Association yesterday, the association does not comment publicly on personnel related matters. RA Board President Sherri Hebert and CEO Cate Fulkerson are not available for further comment on this announcement,” wrote Mike Leone, RA’s director of communications and community engagement, in a statement.

At a candidate forum on Tuesday night, current at-large director John Bowman declined to comment on the issue. He said it was “inappropriate” to comment on the CEO, especially given that “conspiracy theorists in our community” may make conclusions and draw implications based on general statements.

“Let people talk when it’s inappropriate to say anything,” Bowman said.

(This story was updated at 8:52 p.m. to include Bowman’s comments).

Photo courtesy of RA

  • Samuel Colbertson

    A good choice.

    • Mike M

      Said the dude, who defended the last one.

  • Guest

    Nothing like openness and transparency in our homeownership association governance. The absence of these things provides ammunition to all the conspiracy theorists out there. But it was time for her to go. No doubt about that. Now let’s trim the size of the RA staff as well…

    • Are you

      Agree

    • Paul Mack

      Oh right! Openness and transparency?! What a crock. Appointed Shridhar Ganesan rather that allow for open interviews of interested candidates, appointed John Bowman rather than have open interviews of interested candidates. Insisted that the recruiting firm add John Farrell to the mix candidates for in house counsel even through he was not identified as being a good candidate by the firm hired to find candidates. Yep! Nothing like an open and transparent Board! What we have now and what we are in danger of getting is a RCA/Reston 2020 mindset rather than a real representation of the community.

      • Frank

        Mr. Mack, you sir are a troll, who does not know what he is talking about and does not check his facts or does not care about facts. The Board appointed Mr. Ganesan and Mr. Bowman after conducting interviews and giving others who wanted to be considered for the position an opportunity to speak to the board in their own favor. See the Board tapes for the appropriate dates.

        On what basis do you say that Mr. Farrell, “was not identified as being a good candidate by the firm hired to find candidates”? In addition to bordering on libel, you again failed to check facts. Mr. Farrell is given the highest rating by Martindale & Hubbell, the company which lists and rates lawyers across the United States. Your attempt to besmirch the board and Messrs. Ganesan, Bowman and Farrell is low and uncalled for, not to mention not being based on fact. Please take your false facts someplace else. Reston does not need them.

        • Bernie Supporter

          Frank, you may have the facts right but I think your conclusion is still wrong. Despite the fact that an RA election had just recently occurred and candidate Ven Ivyer came in within less than 200 votes of winning, the Board appointed Shridar. This was “legal” but not “moral”. RA members had spoken loudly with their votes on who they wanted on the board and Shridar was not one of them.

        • Are you

          Amen.

  • Donald

    What a tough position to be in, wishing Mr. Wood the best of luck.

    Donald

  • Are you

    Great job to the Board for choosing Robert.

  • Are you

    Robert. I sure hope you get a board that will support you. Financial reform, tight budget controls, and lets you do what is needed to turn a very capable staff into All Stars. Good luck.

  • 40yearsinreston

    The ‘Senior Directors’ should be replaced by staff all across rhe board
    There are too many managers just holding meetings and giving internal status reports while member service is non existent
    The rot has spread through the self serving bureacracy

    • dudewe

      Amen! Especially those who had a major role in the Tetra acquisition. By the way, did those directors have their bonuses “clawed back?” And who is responsible for the $100,000 “remake” of the RA website? The old one was fine.

      • Greg

        Three guesses: Catherine “Cate” Fulkerson. And this isn’t the first $100,000 website remake. It’s at least the third one she’s bungled.

        • Arlene Krieger

          The question is why were we forced to put up with her for so long. I hope the next CEO comes from a different part of the country. Knowing Reston is a hazard. We need a CEO who can take a fresh and impartial look and one that can easily fire everyone and reorganize all these useless committees that have been around for decades. Personally, I’d rather take this has an opportunity to chuck the whole system and become a real town with a major and city council. RA does not work.

          • Greg

            I agree 100%.

            Also, the idea of RA needing a CEO is nonsense. RA is not Google, Microsoft, Apple or GE. It doesn’t need to spend more than a million dollars a year on legal fees and “CEO” salaries and benefits.

            RA needs to maintain its assets (not acquire new ones it doesn’t need); divest, close, or economically repurpose those assets that are neither needed nor desirable (such as the Shadowood and Lake Thoreau pools); pick up the dog crap and litter; plant some flowers; arrange for discounts on services and utilities every Reston property owner uses; and enforce the covenants regularly and rigorously.

            RA is a homeowners’ association and a dysfunctional wasteful one at that the way it’s currently organized and operated.

            Bottom like — time to change to town or city status and be done with the failed mess known as RA.

          • John Higgins

            You had me there for a minute, Greg. Then I got to the last sentence. It’s one thing to say a municipality offers us greater say in certain decisions. Quite different to expect that another, politicized entity will be a paragon of efficiency. I suspect quite the opposite is likely. But this is just chat, we know it won’t be resolved in our lifetime (and I’m not planning on going anywhere soon.)

          • Tetra Troll

            A CEO is required by the Governing Documents which gives that position extensive power.

            Its quite possible that it took this long for a few reluctant members of the Board to conclude that it was time for her to go and then for the Board to hire special counsel and for that attorney to negotiate a respectful leave taking.

          • Greg

            OK, I see that now. But those instruments can be amended or restated.

            Why must the CEO have an employment contract?

    • Arlene Krieger

      “If wishes were fishes” Better yet lets revive the ResTown movement. We need to become a real town with a major and a city council of volunteers who receive small stipends.RA Association is a failed government We need to finally get rid of it.. And things are getting worse. This Gang of Four running together is so undemocratic and it reminds me of Citizens United. Our Board Members will be elected because of the money spent. It’s all about the money. Disgusting!!!

      • Are you

        If money wins it then it shows pooling resources was smart. One more reason to vote for the four for reston. They have already demonstrated efficiency, fiscal responsibility, and ability to work with others.

  • Conservative Senior

    What is the “Special Adviser role” & what is the compensation? Why won’t she just go away!

    • 40yearsinreston

      “special adviser” – continue collect a paycheck till her contract expires
      She is “lawyered up” and RA may not be able to terminate her immediately
      Wonder what else her severance package contains

      • Why do you bother?

        Her contract is up next month, so hopefully NOTHING.

        • Greg

          Next month or October 31?

      • John Higgins

        Hmmm, interesting question. I recall there being a contract provision awarding one month’s pay for each year of service if the CEO’s contract is not renewed at the board’s discretion. Zero award if the CEO chooses to not renew. Either way, the temporary raise for the Acting CFO and dual encumbency if a replacement arrives before November have budget implications that need to be aired and acted upon in public. Now. Fortunately, RA has an Operating Reserve to cover this. Oh, wait…naaa, never mind.

    • Arlene Krieger

      I agree just GO already. I would hate to see her get one more penny from RA members. I hope the RA paid lawyer is not being paid to represent her in anyway.

    • Curious

      Special Adviser – That’s a title that goes along with an agreement to stay on at full salary and not do battle. Termination for cause can be expensive, time-consuming and ugly. Waiting for a contract to lapse and subsequent search and replacement has downside. This is not at all unlike the deal struck with the previous CEO.

      • Greg

        Previous “CEO” Milton Matthews?

        • Curious

          Yes – the details are hazy now, but there was some question of whether or not he breached his contract by moving resident to Maryland. He was given a rather generous “sabbatical” with pay to find another job.

          • Greg

            Uncle Milty’s legacy is the expensive RA HQ taj mahal lease, no? He’s now working at the Columbia (MD) Association — so connect the dots and see what’s to be seen!

            Why do RA staff have or need contracts? VA is a right-to-work state; we should be able to fire them immediately without resorting to legal fees, extended “special assignment” status or anything else.

          • Donald

            Looking at Columbia Association’s website, they do a lot more than RA, offering many more services and programs for their members. Yes, with more staff.

            https://www.columbiaassociation.org/

            Donald

          • John Higgins

            Yes..and golf courses for residents!!!!
            But their fees are considerably higher. Columbia has no capital reserve program; when they build or renovate, they borrow to pay for it. Interesting. Brings to mind one of Bob Simon’s whimsical snipes at the RA board. “Having no debt is un-American.”

          • Greg

            Their annual assessments are ad valorem: the annual charge rate for FY 2018 is 68 cents per $100 of valuation. There are more Columbia Association members, including all of their town center. Their minimalist / small HQ also function as a visitor center on Lake Kittamaqundi.

            I don’t think there are any county rec centers or special tax districts in Howard County.

            Housing values in Columbia are less than similar properties in Reston.

          • John Higgins

            A visitors’ center on a lake…..now why didn’t RA think of that.

          • Donald

            Go figure that one.

            In MONEY’s ranking of the Best Places to Live 2016, the top award goes to Columbia, Maryland.

            Families choose to move to Columbia for a variety of reasons: The schools are good, amenities are close by, there’s a lot of space for kids to run around, and the growing community is racially diverse. Columbia is located between Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C.; the commute times to those cities are reasonable..

            The families that call Columbia home work hard to make the community the best it can be for everyone. People who grow up in Columbia and leave for school say they’ll return when they have a family of their own to raise.

            https://www.columbiaassociation.org/explore-columbia/

          • Donald

            Actually, “the annual charge rate for FY2018 is 68 cents per $100 of valuation, assessed on 50 percent of the fair market value as determined by the state of Maryland for property tax purposes.

            https://www.columbiaassociation.org/about-us/policies-statements/annual-charge/

            Donald

  • Red carpet rollout

    Its nice to see our new CEO distinguish himself with such a strong business background and with real world experience as a CPA fraud examiner. Perhaps he can work together with Cate to come up with a reasonable explanation how Lk House derailed and why, putting closure to tgis topic as it continues to chew up resources and prevents the community from moving forward. There are many important issues to tackle, the lake house being one of the most overdiscussed topics. Welcome Mr Wood, I think you will do well!

    • A L

      The irony is there is no CPA fraud examiner. There’s CPA and CFE (certified fraud examiner which is cake to get). Haha. The writer clearly has no clue what she is talking about lol

      • Curious

        Let’s remember that multiple certifications are not mutually exclusive. Surely you know CPAs who are also CFPs, CIAs, etc. Why not also a CFE?

        • A L

          I am well aware of that. Just pointing out that the article should be more clear. Certified public accountant fraud examiner is not the official title of any certification.

          • A L

            Have you ever seen CPA FE as the designation?? It’s CPA & CFE. It’s the lack of attention to detail by the editor that bothered me.

  • Bert W

    The Reston Association’s policy is naturally to withhold information to Reston residents. Why should we put up with this? The arrogance is breathtaking!

  • Reston Resident

    Now if the rest of them would just submit their resignations!

    • 40yearsinreston

      Not without a golden parachute
      Where else would they find such a cushy job

  • Why do you bother?

    “. Wood, RA’s Chief Financial Officer,”

    Please tell me that he wasn’t an architect of the Lake House/Tetra disaster….

    • Tetra Troll

      He joined the staff after the Tetra referendum was approved.

      • Curious

        Yes, he joined RA after the referendum. But just in time to manage around missing contracts, pay out funds beyond budget authorization, and acquiesce in depletion of reserves. How long does the honeymoon last?

        • Greg

          So much for his fraud examination…

  • A L

    You’re either a certified public accountant or a certified fraud examiner. There is no such thing as a certified public accountant fraud and examiner. Which one is he? Lol

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