After a Decade, Leader Leaves Faith-Based Charity

By Tamara El-Khoury
St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
June 10, 2006

Ron Dickman left his job as CEO of Religious Community Services this week after more than a decade of working there.

Dickman's departure came as the result of a decision by the charity's board of directors, said Bill Trautwein, who left his post as the board's treasurer to act as interim CEO.

"The board decided to move in another direction and felt we needed another leader," Trautwein said.

But while the move was sudden, the charity would only say Dickman "separated from the organization," said Duggan Cooley, the charity's director of development. The faith-based organization of about 80 churches and synagogues was not using the words "fired" or "resigned."

Dickman, 61, could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday.

The organization began 38 years ago and has a $5.5-million budget from grants and donations. RCS runs programs in Pinellas County, including a food bank, thrift store, homeless shelter and domestic violence center.

The charity has about 60 employees and more than 1,000 volunteers.

Dickman's leadership brought more organization and a more professional board, Trautwein said.

"Ron has truly been a faithful director for us," Trautwein said. "We just felt it is now time to move to the next level."

The next level, Trautwein said, means expanding the donation base by tapping into the corporate community. Trautwein said he would also like to see congregations get more actively involved.

The search for a new CEO will begin soon, Trautwein said.

Trautwein said the board's decision had nothing to do with allegations raised against Dickman several years ago. The allegations were that Dickman molested two teenage boys when he was a priest and Catholic school principal in Nashville decades before.

Dickman denied ever abusing a minor. No charges were filed against him. In 2003, the RCS board gave Dickman a unanimous vote of confidence.


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