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Wildacres trims programs, staff

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Kathleen Clark

Kathleen Clark

Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. – The Wildacres Leadership Initiative, a 15-year-old nonprofit that focuses on bridging differences and addressing critical issues in the state, has downsized.

For the immediate future, the Durham-based group will focus solely on its two-year leadership-development program that has graduated 165 William C. Friday Fellows for Human Relations in its first seven classes.

The group’s board decided last fall to reduce the organization’s annual budget to just over $250,000 from roughly $450,000, says Kathleen C. Clark, the group’s program director.

“Currently, we’re unable to fulfill the Wildacres Leadership Initiative’s full strategic plan, but we hope to re-start our other two programs in the future,” she says.

That budget reduction resulted in the elimination of the job of executive director, a post held for the last seven-and-a-half years by Sterling Freeman.

Freeman now serves as pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in Smithfield and still lives in Durham.

And he continues to be involved in leadership-development work.

It also resulted in the elimination of the job of office manager and event planner, a position held for the past 12 years by Deborah Eakins.

Clark will continue to serve as program director and aims to fill a new half-time position of program coordinator.

Clark’s main responsibility will be oversee the fellowship program and provide individual coaching of fellows.

She also will serve as the organization’s main administrator.

The Charlotte-based Blumenthal Foundation, which launched the organization, has been and will continue to be its biggest funder, Clark says.

Wildacres also generates about $100,000 a year in income from its $2 million endowment, and this year also aims to raise $35,000 from individual contributors.

Wildacres is seeking nominations for its next class, which begins in October 2011 and runs through June 2013.

The organization’s Fellows Action Network, its alumni group, will continue, but a consulting effort known as the Center for Excellence in Leadership, will be put on hold, Clark says.

“But the board would like to get back to it,” she says.

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