Camilla to the Rescue

June 25, 2015

By James Preston Allen, Publisher and Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

I interviewed Camilla Townsend a few weeks ago about vision, consensus building and leadership—particularly in light of her work with the Port of Los Angeles High School and the on-dock marine research center, AltaSea.

In my most recent editorial, I wrote about the high turnover of executive directors in the local nonprofit sector, including Angels Gate Cultural Center’s former executive director, Debra Lewis; former San Pedro Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, Betsy Cheek and Port of Los Angeles Executive Director, Geraldine Knatz; and most recently Marymount California University President Michael Brophy.

What each of these organizations has in common is that they are structured as corporate nonprofit organizations. The decision making of the individuals that make up the boards of these nonprofits is, at various times, less than transparent.

Camilla Townsend, on the other hand, strikes me as an example of engaged leadership.

In the past 12 months, Townsend was drafted twice to navigate nonprofits in some state of crisis. The first was POLAHS after the homegrown charter school was rocked by teachers organizing for labor representation this past fall, and student demonstrations staged amid financial impropriety allegations against Executive Director Jim Cross.

The second was when Townsend was tapped to become the chairwoman of the board of directors of AltaSea after Rachel Etherington, the chief executive officer, unexpectedly stepped down on April 28—to the surprise of almost everyone.

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