Sanders Lewallen, CEO of Flint RiverQuarium, says that the facility is a “very expensive operation to run,” and that there hasn’t been a serious fundraising campaign in more than three years. Lewallen calls the RiverQuarium’s financial situation “manageable.”
ALBANY, Ga. — The Flint RiverQuarium has announced a reduction in force, eliminating the position held by CEO Sanders Lewallen.
The RiverQuarium board voted on the measures Monday night, according to spokesperson Wendy Bellacomo. The board voted to cut the CEO's position as a cost-cutting measure, Bellacomo said.
Board Chair Emily Jean McAfee will serve as the temporary CEO on a volunteer basis.
"Sanders joined the RiverQuarium at a very challenging time," McAfee said. "We greatly value the talent and dedication he has shown to the organization, but regrettably the budget situation forced us to make this extremely tough decision. We wish Sanders only the best and know that with his experience and expertise he has a very bright future ahead."
Lewallen has been at the RiverQuarium since June 2011, when he was hired to replace former CEO Scott Loehr.
Bellacomo said that Lewallen was paid a severance, but that the details of that would have to be discussed with McAfee, who wouldn't be available until today.
The RiverQuarium's 2011 Form 990, which was filed with the IRS in May of 2012, doesn't list Lewallen's salary, but does state the RiverQuarium's operating budget topped $1 million for 2011.
The 2010 Form 990 shows that Loehr reported a $99,000 salary with an operating budget of $1.8 million.
The decision to cut the position could position the RiverQuarium for a merger with Chehaw, a move some on the Albany City Commission have been pushing.
Albany City Manager James Taylor did not address the RiverQuarium's decision to remove the CEO position, but said he wished Lewallen well.
Taylor has urged the City Commission, which has been wrestling with its own budget, to forego what has become an annual payment to the RiverQuarium.
The commission, however, agreed to give the facility $150,000 to prop it up after a plea from Lewallen.