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Domestic violence shelter's leader turns in resignation

Sue Spitz-Buchholtz had headed the Spring of Tampa Bay for three years.

By ANNE LINDBERG and AMY SCHERZER
Published April 17, 2005


TAMPA - The leader of the Spring of Tampa Bay, a well-known shelter for domestic abuse victims, has abruptly resigned.

The news of Sue Spitz-Buchholtz's departure came Saturday morning in a four-paragraph news release that provided no details.

"We wish Sue the best as she leaves to pursue other endeavors," Barbara Dare, chairwoman of the Spring's board of directors, is quoted as saying.

Cathy Unruh, the group's spokeswoman, reached in the Bahamas, said only that Spitz-Buchholtz's departure was for "personal reasons." Unruh declined further comment.

Spitz-Buchholtz could not be reached for comment.

But Linda Osmundson, executive director of CASA, the shelter for domestic violence victims in St. Petersburg, said Spitz-Buchholtz told her Saturday of difficulties with the Spring board.

"The only thing I know is that she and her board were going in different directions," Osmundson said.

There were no questions of impropriety or other such issues but there were some financial challenges.

"That's what she inherited," Osmundson said. "Sue's an excellent business manager."

Some of the Spring's programs, such as the thrift store, were not making a profit, Osmundson said. They now are. And other belt tightening took the Spring's budget from $6-million to $4-million.

Those were good moves, but they were also the type that can irk boards, Osmundson said.

"We've all had to retrench. We've all had to look at what was essential in our organizations. . . . These are hard times for nonprofits in some ways in terms of raising money," Osmundson said. "I think that's part of it."

The Spring is the only state-certified provider of domestic violence services in Hillsborough County.

Spitz-Buchholtz took over management of the Spring a little more than three years ago. Her predecessor, Mabel Bexley, was a much loved icon who had been with the Spring since 1983.

Bexley took the organization, founded in 1977, from a shabby, single-family house with three employees to a multimillion dollar agency with a campus and more than 100 employees.

Today, the Spring has a 102-bed shelter, along with child care and education, counseling, job training, transitional housing, a crisis hotline and other services.

Dare said in the press release that the Spring board member Al Oddis will be a volunteer interim CEO while the board looks for a replacement.

Dare said business will go on as usual.

"The Spring of Tampa Bay remains a vibrant member of the social services community, and remains committed to our mission, which is to eliminate domestic violence," Dare said. "We plan to continue our many programs and services for survivors of domestic violence - women, children and men - without interruption."

[Last modified April 17, 2005, 00:24:07]


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