Let’s go back in time to November, 2011. Daniel Woodroffe, Charlie McCabe and I were enjoying a cup of coffee at Progress Coffee over on east 5th Street. The three of us tried to meet twice a month to discuss Foundation business, keep up on city gossip, and plan for the coming year.
That’s when Charlie dropped the bomb that he was going to leave APF, and for very honorable reasons, return to his hometown of Boston. I felt all the blood rush out of my head…my worst nightmare as the new president of the Parks Foundation was happening. What were we going to do?
The only good news was that he planned to stay till after It’s My Park Day…always held on the 1st Saturday in March…that gave us three months…plenty of time to find a replacement. I don’t remember Daniel saying much…he might have…I don’t think I was hearing much that was said after the now famous lines, “I’m leaving the Foundation and looking for a job in Boston.” Much of the rest of the morning was a blank.
Charlie actually ended up leaving at the end of January and two of the three remaining staff members were gone shortly after It’s My Park Day in March. Thank goodness Eric stayed. He was, and is, a very competent person who held things together with the help and guidance of Gretchen Flatau, who came on board as Interim Executive Director and did an outstanding job.
You know, as I look back on those months, I realize that I don’t really know much about Eric. We had a few talks at the office, mostly about business. I wish I knew more about him personally. The Foundation owes him quite a lot. If you could buy stock in people like you can buy stock on the stock exchange, let me give you a hot stock tip: buy a few shares of Eric Courchesne and hold them for the long term. You’ll make money on that deal!
Anyway, we all made it through the madness. The whole process forced us to re-examine our organization and I am pleased to say that the Austin Parks Foundation has an exciting new direction, a great new leader in Colin Wallis – who comes to us after eight years with the Livestrong Foundation – and a great staff in Eric, Jessica, Bill and Kate. I feel extremely fortunate to have been part of a very special year.
Thank you all,
Past President, Austin Parks Foundation