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May 13, 2015

Maine Development Foundation CEO steps down

Maine Development Foundation CEO and President Harold Clossey unexpectedly stepped down last month, the second top leadership change in two years.

Amertah Perman, MDF's chief operating officer, confirmed to Mainebiz that Clossey resigned on April 17 for health and personal reasons, though his participation with the nonprofit continued in the following weeks to help with its transition period. MDF's membership — which includes over 240 businesses, municipalities and other groups — was informed about Clossey's departure on Friday, according to MDF board Chairman Jonathan Edgerton.

Clossey did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Perman said Clossey's resignation was unexpected, but added that the organization fully supports his decision. Clossey, who previously worked in Washington County as an economic development official, started as MDF's leader on Jan 20, 2014.

"Under Harold's short tenure, we went through a number of transitions and his passion and support for the staff really helped keep the work going," Perman said. "He really created an environment where everyone had an opportunity to lead."

Clossey is not MDF's first leader to have a relatively short tenure. Ed Cervone, who replaced longtime leader Laurie Lachance, served as MDF's president and CEO just a little under a year before stepping down in September 2013, which was considered unexpected at the time.

Edgerton said both departures were under different circumstances and doesn't think they point to any issues with MDF's ability to retain leaders.

"I don't get the sense that the nature of the position has been a problem," he said. "We certainly had a large number of candidates when Harold took [the job], so I don't anticipate we're going to have a problem finding a suitable candidate."

Edgerton said MDF is working on identifying an interim leader. He added that he expects the group will find a permanent replacement over the next few months, though MDF and its board is still working out how that process will work.

Perman, who is currently overseeing MDF's day-to-day operations, said the group is using Clossey's departure as an opportunity to identify areas of improvement for its programs, namely in how it works with other organizations to achieve its economic development goals. MDF programs include, among others, Leadership Maine and the Maine Economic Growth Council, which publishes the annual Measures of Growth report on Maine's economy.

"We're looking at subtle changes, incremental changes — no robust overhaul because we've been on track with our mission," Perman said. "The changes come in the organizational way we behave and how we can do more collaborations with other organizations."

Edgerton said Clossey's departure won't have an impact on the organization's mission, which is to drive sustainable, long-term economic growth for the state.

"We're certainly optimistic in our ability to keep the programs running effectively, which continue to support an enhanced quality of life for the people of Maine," he said.

The story was updated to note that Clossey was unavailable for comment.

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