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Reston Association’s CFO and Acting CEO Resigns

by RestonNow.com April 19, 2018 at 3:35 pm 86 Comments

Reston Association’s CFO and acting CEO Robert Wood will resign, leaving two top leadership positions open at the homeowners’ association.

Wood was named acting CEO in February following former CEO Cate Fulkerson’s resignation in February. He has taken a new job at a national nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., ending a roughly three years of work at RA.

Larry Butler, RA’s senior director of land use and planning will take over as acting CEO. The board is actively searching for a new, permanent CEO following Fulkerson’s departure. Job listings were posted on online job platforms, including an April 9 posting.

Wood’s last day is tomorrow (April 20).

Photo via RA

  • MAGA

    Drain that swamp!!!

    • Drive By Critic

      Robert Wood was NOT a part of anyone’s swamp. Your comment is stoopid and uninformed. I’ll bet he is glad to be leaving this crazy job anyway.

      • Donald

        Agree,

        Given the antics of the prior board, anticipate many more resignations. Staff instantly became a just a commodity when Carr, Hebert, Ganesan, and Bowman joined.

        Wood had a stellar reputation as CFO.

        Donald

        • 30yearsinreston

          Thats what happens when ‘staff’ treat dues paying members as ‘commodities’ best ignored
          Those gone werent staff,but ‘executives’

          • Donald

            Staff is being tasked to do what most organizations use twice as many people for. This organization has been nickel & dimed to death. Continued cost cutting will significantly impair critical functions. No innovation coming from the board.

            Donald

          • 30yearsinreston

            BS
            That is the classic baseless bureaucrat justification
            RA have gotten so top heavy there is no one to answer the phones Some think it below them to return calls
            They forgot who they work for and what they are paid to do
            Hint: reporting to each other via emails and attending useless ‘meetings’ while neglecting members is not what they are paid for
            Fulkerson created a faceless bureacracy reportng to her whose main function was to.maintain itself
            I look forward to further swamp draining and clearing of deadwood
            Good riddance to her

          • Donald

            I’m not a bureaucrat, and Reston is not even close to being a bureaucracy. The Reston Association manages the equivalent of several New York Central Parks — for an infinitesimal fraction of the cost.

            Donald

          • Ray Wedell

            Donald, if I might interject some calm logic: There are clearly better ways to manage RA, but the 3 Boards I was with wanted no part of doing the hard work necessary to redefine what they expected from their CEO. Cate had a bureaucratic job evaluation she managed to, leading to creation of silo after silo, as most of the critics in here were also comfortable with. Now a few name-calleing cowards in here, using phony names, want to hurl molotov cocktails at everyone, so let’s ignore that nonsense. They are probably Kitchen Kabinet people anyway…..

            RA CAN be run much better. But it won’t be, by its own design…. To blame staff personally for this is ridiculous.

            As for the Board members and their buddies who love to name-call and selectively force their pet ideas down people’s throats, their force-feeding the new “ethics bill” and “Whistleblower” stuff down everyone’s throats sets everyone up as a potential victim for anonymous vindictiveness. Guess what? Including them. So beware the ricochet.

            This will be an interesting year, and I hope David is able to guide things through the storm. But the train has already derailed, and I remain skeptical that this crew will be able to get it on the right tracks. I hope I am wrong about that.

            As for the focus of this article, I repeat: Robert Wood was a great guy and very capable. This is a major loss to RA.

          • Donald

            Ganesan took credit for Wood’s work.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            Agree with you Ray that Robert leaving is a major loss to RA – disagree that the train has derailed. Having read the Stoneturn report and having done extensive research on how RA is supposed to run and how it was run, I see this Board tightening policies and instituting the changes recommended by Stoneturn. Also disagree that it’s up to Bobzien to right the ship. It will take entire Board to right the ship and The community to serve as a watchful eye. I serve on the fiscal committee and raise issues when I see them but have also had my neighbors ask some really good questions which I have raised there as well. With that being said, the documents need to be posted early and regularly so people have time to review. The more eyes the better.

          • Ray Wedell

            It will take strong and intelligent leadership from the top to right this derailed ship. Of course all Board members are important. Maybe David will provide the necessary leadership to make sure all Board members are allowed and encouraged to vouce an opinion and have their opinions considered. That would be a MAJOR positive change from the last Bosrd.

          • J Gallagher

            In an earlier post on Reston Now someone said Bobzien was “Hudgins candidate for the apartment owners representative” slot – is this true? With so much authority resting with the president, I worry….

          • Ray Wedell

            And someone else, maybe the same person, accused Bobzien of being an accomplice to murder. Such is the paranoia and damaging falsehoods that are allowed in here.

            You are worried about David? Just relax…he is not beholden to a very small clique of outsiders, one or two of whom frequently comment in here, as was the previous Board. Newer Board members will likely have input and bobble head 9-0 decisions will be less frequent. As for him being beholden to Ms Hudgins, isn’t it time people stop with such nonsense?

            Let a good man assume leadership and lead.

          • J Gallagher

            Ray – just asking if that’s true – I don’t know Mr. Bobzien but saw that post and was worried that the county now has some influence over our money. The president of the board, under the deed is one of two people who can sign contracts. Are you saying that Hudgins didn’t push his candidacy? I am asking because I honestly do not know.

          • John Higgins

            Jill, the fact of the matter is that none of us know the extent of Ms. Hudgins’ support for Mr. Bobzien. The popular lore is a logical conclusion: the County is the largest owner of apartment owners in Reston; its votes are cast by its housing department; department directors generally look to the district’s supervisor for guidance. Might Ms. Hudgins strongly influence the outcome of that particular race? You bet. And? Well, in a number of ways Mr. Bobzien is perhaps the most competent candidate we have seen in a long time; he was unopposed. No disrespect to other directors, but if there were only one signing contracts, he would be the best choice.

          • J Gallagher

            I get the apartment owner seat…and I get the interest of the county as an owner of apartments…I am saying that a person who represents the interest of the county (as you say here) is now the president of RA. Is that right?

          • John Higgins

            Whoa…I neither said nor believe that the apartment owners’ seat represents the interest of the county. This person primarily represents all apartment owners and secondarily all members. I’ve lost track of the number, but I’ve served with four or five such directors and their participation on the board was literally indistinguishable from all other directors. To other readers: just because you can imagine something doesn’t make it true, and not even likely.
            P.S. Mr. B. is the second president in recent history to be the apartment owners’ rep.

          • J Gallagher

            John that’s insulting. You continue to say insulting things to me – I am not “imagining” things. Your tone is why people don’t ask questions – because long-time people act like all these details are obvious. They’re not. You said that there are a lot of apartments are owned by Fairfax County. You said that the county has an interest in what happens in RA. I am asking if the apartment rep is representing county interests. Obviously yes. It’s one thing to have an apartment rep it’s another to have that person be one of two designated signatories on RA contracts. One of the issues with the Lake House was that outside interests drove some of that purchase and the other was that there was little check and balance on contract signing. As a homeowner, I have a right to ask these questions without getting insulted.

          • John Higgins

            Jill, I’d ask you to read this string again. As with many strings, comments on Reston Now are riddled with “I think”, “it seems”, “maybe” “it could be” – qualifiers that are easily lost on readers. So that you might not take offense, I was careful to direct my admonition “to other readers”.

            It is factual that the county owns a large number of apartment units. I did not say that the county has an interest in what happens in RA. Logical as that might be, I have no idea. We have never had a representative of the county’s housing department address the board on any issue. Since RA will not tell us who votes, I don’t even know if they cast ballots in our elections.

            Your point on contract signing is of interest. As you know, in 2015, RA policy called for multiple parties to be involved in approving large-dollar contracting. Absent a record, we are left not knowing if the control was inadequate or if it simply failed. And therein is the piece still missing from policy. There needs to be an encumbrance process which assures that these contracts have been approved in accordance with policy and that they do not exceed the funds set aside for the work. I pointed that out to StoneTurn, and it made it into its recommendations. I expect the next CFO will be challenged to find a way to do that. As I believe you pointed out previously, having a policy is fine, unless it is not followed.

          • J Gallagher

            There are procurement policies in place now as they were approved by the board. However, we saw that every time RA lost a CFO, compliance lapsed. It was requested that the financial reporting continue to the Fiscal Committee like it did under Robert so we (the fiscal committee) can lend some oversight.

          • Ray Wedell

            I have no idea, Jill. But I do think David is a good man. I am not worried about him trying to steer us in directions that he believes are not for the good of Reston. Let’s give him a fair chance.

          • Greg

            I believe the apartment owners’ representative is elected, but it’s entirely possible that he was nominated by Hudgins.

            What I don’t understand is why apartment owners collectively need their own director (one of nine).

          • J Gallagher

            Well having a rep as a director is one thing…having the apartment rep as the president is another

          • Greg

            But why do apartment owners get a special rep? They get two reps because they also have a district rep, no?

            Also, does the apartment rep have to reside in Reston?

          • J Gallagher

            That’s a good point

          • John Higgins

            Owners of multi-family housing lots (Class B members) do not have a vote for the district directors. For each apartment unit they own, they have one vote in the election of the Class B director. While true that this gives a small number of building owners a one-ninth voice on the board, if they voted in the district and at-large races, there would be an alarming dilution of the value of our individual votes. Last year, eight owners cast 1,613 votes. That would have been enough to sway virtually every contested race.

            The Class B representative need not be a resident of Reston.

          • Donald

            Be prepared for the best of the staff to start exiting.

            Leaving behind the people who should have exited in the first place.

            Seen this over and over and over in my career. This board better get ready, and start reading up quickly on crisis management.

            Donald

          • J Gallagher

            Nickel and dimed to death? What are you talking about? It has an $18 million budget, several million sitting in investments several million in cash, and pretty posh offices!! The CEO and CFO make nearly $200k and staff have a good benefits package! It has pretty much been the opposite of nickel and dimed to death!!

          • Ray Wedell

            Jill, I cannot argue with you there. And what percentage of costs is related to personnel expenses: 2/3 or so? But everyone keeps looking for easy answers served up like instant pudding; such answers do not exist, as far as I can see.

            I am not as appalled as many by one or two seemingly high salaries, IF those are the right people operating in the right way. My point of contention has always been that RA has chosen to design itself like a Federal Government Agency (I use HUD as an example because I know it). In 2018, that guaranteed sub-optimal results, no matter how many employees you have and how “qualified” they are. And this stated nobility of working long hours is ridiculous; I could care less if a CEO, CFO, or anyone else works 70-80 hours a week. That in itself should tell them that new and better ways of doing things are necessary.

          • J Gallagher

            Agree Ray. If you have the right people, and the money is being spent wisely, you feel ok about paying a decent salary..

          • Greg

            RA, and Fulkerson Matthews and in particular, certainly wanted nothing to do with the federal (or any) government entity when we presented federal, Fairfax County, and Columbia, MD office space standards to the RA. At that time, the RA insisted it needed more than 2.5 times the office space for its staff than even the most generous federal and county standards. And, it took even more than that in its posh new HQ (which it insisted it needed since the old HQ was in imminent danger of being razed). Of course, that old RA HQ building still stands today.

          • J Gallagher

            Perhaps the selection of the current property was already a done deal and drove the square footage “requirement” like the price of the lake house was a done deal and seemed to drive the appraisal “value”?? Interesting that space standards were presented – I did not know that.

        • Donald’s Donald

          You just get more misinformed every minute.

          Carr, Herbert Ganesan and Bowman loved Wood.

          No doubt the election of Iyer was the last straw that helped Wood make up his mind to leave.

          • Donald

            God, you don’t read. They may have liked him… but, did he respect and like them? Or anything that took place last year? Highly doubt it. I’d love to have an “off-the-record” chat with him.

            Donald

          • Ray Wedell

            He had a much better option. So he took it. No surprise. He likely would not have even considered looking just a few months ago.

        • Ray Wedell

          Amen!!!!

  • Michael Gandolfo

    Dissolve the RA. It is a mess and unnecessary.

    • Greg

      Huzzah! Best idea yet!

      • TEAMSTERS #1

        Agree.

    • OneReally

      And refund the dues!

      • Bernie

        Yes!

    • 30yearsinreston

      Original RHOA has morphed into a gravy train filled with an overpaid bureacraric elite at the expense of the members purses
      Frontlife staff are few while contractors and their cronies aka managers feed at the public trough
      Perfect example is the glossy magazine
      If RA dues were cut by 50% , services would not be impacted even though a few managers would be shown the door
      Time to get back to its mission of maintenance and preservation of common areas

      • Tom

        If the magazine makes a profit, it should definitely stay. if not, ditch it!

        • Greg

          Show us the numbers on the magazine, RA, and let us see if it makes money or not. Where are those numbers?

        • Fixed

          Nobody reads it. It should be hosted online by a reputable cloud svc PROvider

      • Greg

        You are right. Why, for example, does the RA need so many directors? A director of covenants administration? What does Anna Varone do in that director’s role? Direct the manager who manages the staff person?

        What is Anna Varone’s job description? Does she go out and inspect properties regularly? How often does she do that? How many properties does she inspect? How thoroughly are they inspected? How rigorous is the follow up? Enforcement?

        How many meetings, trainings, certifications, and other, non covenants enforcement activities does Anna Varone spend her time on — especially after the RA decided to eliminate anonymous complaints and regular, routine property inspections.

  • Rodney Dangerfield

    You do realize that picture is of Larry Butler, not the acting CEO, right?

    • Michael Gandolfo

      Someone didn’t read the article: “Larry Butler, RA’s senior director of land use and planning will take over as acting CEO.”

  • 30yearsinreston

    Another inflated title goes
    6 or so less ‘Senior Directors’ on the gravy train won’t hurt

  • Ray Wedell

    Robert Wood was an outstanding man and outstanding asset to Reston. He was not part of anyone’s “clique”.

    Didn’t one of the candidates in the last election predict that the good people would exit this derailed train at RA? And that the good people have options, and will be the first out? You are kidding yourself if you don’t think others are actively looking for ways to exit.

    Good luck, Robert. You will do very well.

    Okay, anonymous Lilliputians. Fire in your “funny” derogatory comments now.

    • The message board

      Welcome to the board!

    • Greg

      Is Anna Verone on the “others are actively looking for ways to exit” list?

      • J Gallagher

        I usually agree with a lot of what you say but I think we need to look more at where we are losing money, or constantly off our budget, and covenants is not one of those areas. I’m of the mindset “let’s try not to fix what’s not broken” – agree on the glossy magazine though! LOL

        • Greg

          I mostly agree, but I don’t think RA is enforcing maintenance covenants consistently and universally, and the manner in which is is attempting to do so (named complaints and on noticed property conveyance) is inefficient and ineffective.

          I know for a a fact, for example, that certain parks seem to be exempt from RA’s design and maintenance covenants, but no one can tell me why.

          • J Gallagher

            That’s interesting..you should share more so it can be checked out…

          • Greg

            Take a ride/look behind the Home Depot. You will see a large, unscreened open paved lot that, depending on the time of year, will be chock-a-block full of merchandise, trash, cardboard, litter, pipes, orange racks, a massive trash compactor fully visible, a chain link fence visible from Reston Parkway and more.

            Here are the guidelines:

            https://www.reston.org/PropertyOwnerResources/DesignReview/DesignGuidelines/CommercialPublicProperty/tabid/381/Default.aspx

            Trash and recycling facilities in particular:

            The DRB will require that effective screening be provided for the storage equipment, generally in the form of privacy fencing. (There exists no screening at all).

            Take a look at the park across the street from the Home Depot. Rusty home-plate cage? Huge chain-link fences? Regularly overflowing trash (but no recycling) cans?

            Here are the guidelines:

            https://www.reston.org/PropertyOwnerResources/DesignReview/DesignGuidelines/RecreationalRAProperty/tabid/382/Default.aspx

            Fences in particular:

            https://www.reston.org/Portals/3/Property%20Owner%20Resources/Design%20Review/Design%20Guidelines/Proptype/Rec/11%20Fences%20-%20Recreational%20and%20RA%20Property.pdf

            Such styles as split-rail or horizontal board fences with wire mesh or black vinyl-covered chain link fence on a wood frame or black metal posts are generally considered suitable for limited use on RA or recreational property.

          • Greg

            My first posting was marked as spam, so we will see about getting reposted, but here’s another example. Remember this building? The old RA HQ? The building RA told us and insisted was in imminent danger of being razed? Still standing years later. BUT: look at that paint near the roof. Look at that parking lot. Well maintained? Desirable? Recently inspected and found to be in full compliance?https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/70e0598f331a34d65277d3d24942a6804cca3342be7d4a89f4a2bf2750fdd669.png ?

          • J Gallagher

            Ah that’s interesting. I don’t know the covenant side that well but have heard from many neighbors that the time they give to make the repairs is unreasonable.

          • Greg

            How about that convenience center on Soapstone? With the Asian restaurant, the cleaner building, and convenience store. Is it well maintained and attractive?

          • Greg

            The Popeyes at the International Center? Missing / damaged massive sign, peeling paint, damaged stucco, overgrown vegetation and dead trees? Erosion issues? Graffiti on the stucco for months at a stretch? It’s not like this would be hard to see from the posh RA HQ!

  • John Higgins

    I have a difficult time processing this news. Can it really be that Mr. Wood decided to depart in the eight days since the board voted for its new officers? Mr. Butler is quite capable of filling the Acting CEO role, he has done that before. But there is now an incredible gap in the financial management of RA. If the board was aware of this resignation, it missed an opportunity to at least select a treasurer with the background and experience to help navigate through the difficult waters this resignation presents. Unless there is a lot more to the story, it strikes me as unthinkable that a responsible executive would leave his organization so high and dry.

    • Donald

      It’s a valid point.

      If Wood gave notice before the Initial Board of Director’s Board Meeting — shame on that board! They basically guaranteed Ganesan his position. I suspect it was an email topic among Carr, Hebert, Ganesan and Bowman before that meeting. The new board members were left in the cold.

      Otherwise, if Wood chose this week to resign — he’s basically making the statement — ” I’m outta here, thank you, bye-bye…and good luck!”

      Donald

      • 30yearsinreston

        Dont let the door slam you in the as** the way out

      • Ray Wedell

        Robert is too kind and mild-mannered to make the statement you cite in bold. But was he thinking just that? Most likely.

    • 30yearsinreston

      If you find this hard to believe You’ve been away from business to long
      If it means that the gravy train sinecures and enitlements are ending, thats positive

      • Ray Wedell

        Robert Wood did not have a “sinecure.” He is a sound professional and a great guy. He will not be easily replaced.

    • Greg

      Maybe he found his dream job?
      Maybe he was irresponsible?
      Or not an executive?

      Maybe he realized, or was told, he was not being considered for the RA general manager position?

      Or that the general manager position was never going command the excessive compensation given to Cate Fulkerson?

      Although reading “…ending a roughly three years…” makes me wonder, too.

      Were the three years rough?
      Or was he there roughly three years?
      Or both?

      • 30yearsinreston

        What’s cares
        He’s gone
        There are no shortage of candidates

    • cRAzy

      Mr. Wood was in the process of getting another job back at the time of Fulkerson’s departure. He agreed to stay on through the elections–and told his prospective employer this. He has done what he said he would do and more than the RA Board could reasonably ask for.

      • Donald

        So, the previous board new this for quite some time, and we now have Ganesan as our Treasurer. Wow.

        I pray Sigle, Bitzer, and yes, even Iyer, start asking some hard questions of the rest.

        Donald

        • cRAzy

          What specifically is your problem with Ganesan? As Treasurer for less than a year, he lowered our assessments for the first time ever, he created the first credible financial processes in RA’s history, and he supported the FREE Tetra follow-up investigation (after leading one rejected by the previous Board).

          OK, he likes tennis. Also, he’s a person of color. What else you got?

          • Donald

            “…he lowered our assessments, he created the first credible financial processes in RA’s history…” Really, you think that?

            Hey, I guess he discovered the cure for polio as well.

            Donald

          • cRAzy

            The question was what do you think and why. I told you what I think.

          • Donald

            Ganesan is famous for taking credit for other people’s efforts.

            Donald

          • Ray Wedell

            You are obviously not prepared for an honest answer to your initial question. And throwing in the “person of color” comment into your anonymously-named post invalidates anything you say, anyway. Play those games elsewhere, please.

      • John Higgins

        Thanks for the info, which I take as reliable on blind faith. It’s somewhat disappointing that we have to learn things like this from unnamed sources, but I suppose intrigue is part of the spice of life.

        • cRAzy

          It’s the best info at my disposal, and I believe it’s accurate.

    • Ray Wedell

      John, you know the answer to this by putting the pieces together yourself. But let’s be brutally honest here: When a company feels the need to “cut costs” and turns over operations to the “bean counters”, it almost always leads to an austerity-driven organization that simply does not work, and which loses its best people as a result. There are thousands of real world examples of this.

      Is that not what we have here?

      Someone told me this yesterday: “They are simply ‘playing Government’ and there is no sound financial mind, nor organizational mind, that is on board that I can see. If there is, they won’t listen to that person anyway.” One example: You and I both know how unbelievably amateurish it was to pay off that Lake House loan, and to do so paying full dollar for dollar on a loan that probably could have been repurchased for 70 or 75 cents makes it even worse. They never wanted to even have that option surfaced. Compound the same mentality on all the other things you know about from experience in the RA financial realm that can be done differently.

      • JoeInReston

        ” You and I both know how unbelievably amateurish it was to pay off that Lake House loan, and to do so paying full dollar for dollar on a loan that probably could have been repurchased for 70 or 75 cents makes it even worse.”

        Can you elaborate on this comment – particularly the 70 to 75 cents option? How would that have worked? Would the lender have to agree to take a haircut? Would that have created a bad mark and adversely affect Reston’s ability to get credit in the future or the rate at which it gets the credit?

        • John Higgins

          Joe, RA’s loan was at 3.65%. Being paid on a diminishing balance, at January 2018 the bank was earning an effective rate of 2.8% over the remaining seven years of the loan. They could not call in the loan, but if RA voluntarily paid it off, the bank could put that money to use at today’s rates. Five-year ARMs are averaging 4.19%; fifteen-year fixed rate mortgages are 3.81%; thirty-year fixed average 4.40%. So, the bank could be earning 35 to 57 percent more on this money if the loan is paid off. Might they have accepted less than the full balance due? Were they asked? I can’t say.

          RA’s credit would not be affected.

          An alternative to paying off the loan was for RA to prudently invest that money. RA’s investment adviser tells us that non-profits with risk tolerance similar to RA’s can expect an average annual return of six percent. (Enough to have paid both principal and interest on this loan.) It’s not clear why the adviser was not consulted or why RA believed it could not earn at least half the average return on investment.

          • JoeInReston

            I guess this would be a question for both lender and investment experts.

            Its possible there is an opportunity cost because of interest rate hikes since the Tetra purchase that might incentivize the bank to give the RA a discount. Is it possible that the mortgage has long since been diced into many mortgage securities on the securities market such that there is no opportunity to “arbitrage” the Lake House interest rate with the current market rate?

            That historical 6% rate has quite a bit of deviation. I doubt the community would have much patience if their rainy day fund ( I realize its technically not a rainy day fund but I don’t know what to call it) went down 10 to 20%. Vanguard Balanced Index fund hasn’t had a losing year since 2008.

            I am not an expert, but from a glib look, the move doesn’t seem as grossly amateurish to me as it does Ray, but again, I am not an expert.

          • J Gallagher

            I agree with you, JoeinReston…I am not an expert in investments but I am an expert in public finance and everything I know about public finance says that that you don’t collect more than you need…RA has a mandated cash reserve (that’s good) and RA has a capital reserve (that’s good)…we are a homeowners association…It shouldn’t be this complicated (as the above posts contend)…the minute the finances get complicated, fewer people understand and oversight by members (which should be easy) becomes impossible…we are a homeowners association – it shouldn’t be that complicated…additionally, in looking at our investments, our cumulative rate of return has been closer to 4.0% than the 6% or 10% rates than I have seen quoted here…and no one discusses the fact that what NOT paying off the loan would do to our cash flow…would squirreling away money force RA to raise our assessments to cover our operating costs while millions of our assessment dollars sit in the bank? Paying off the loan was not amateurish..it was recommended by the CFO and made sense to me.

  • Bernie

    Great! Thanks Reston 1 & V Iyer! Keep up the good work. End this gravy train. Go after Bulova & cronies too.

  • Donald

    Wishing Mr. Butler the best. He has a long history with the organization and is well respected by the Community.

    Donald

    • dudewe

      Butler was very much involved in the Lake House (aka Tetra) property. Now RA promotes him to acting CEO? He vied for this job with Fulkerson and when she got the job he threatened to quit. CF then promoted him for staying on. Ho ho….

      • Donald

        Wishing Mr. Butler the best. He has a long history with the organization and is well respected by the Community.

        Donald

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