REGION — Richard Batt retired from his position as the CEO of Interfaith Community Services less than two weeks after the North County nonprofit suspended its merger with the Community Resource Center.
Announcing his decision on Dec. 23, Batt said that he was leaving for personal reasons, including the need to care for his elderly father who has advanced Parkinson’s disease.
“I came to Interfaith with the goal of helping it become one of the best social service organizations in the region. We advanced toward that goal but there is still more to do,” he stated in a letter to Interfaith employees.
Based in Escondido, Interfaith has provided food, emergency shelter, employment assistance and other services throughout North County for 31 years.
Associate Director Craig Jones was appointed to serve as interim CEO. He has worked for the organization for 16 years.
Interfaith’s board of directors will determine a process for filling the position permanently and a replacement will likely be selected within three to six months, said the agency’s Director of Community Connections Jason Coker.
Interfaith commended Batt in a press release for his work leading the effort to create a plan to solve homelessness in North County, launching the organization’s employment services department, and the expansion of its temporary housing program.
Batt was hired as CEO in September 2011, taking over from Suzanne Pohlman who led the organization for 30 years.
His retirement comes on the heels of the deferral of the merger between Interfaith and the Community Resource Center in Encinitas.
In mid-June, the two social services organizations announced that they planned to join together to create one primary North County agency to cut down on duplicate services and reduce overhead costs.
The new agency would have combined Interfaith’s $10.4 million operating budget and specialties in veterans’ assistance, addiction recovery programs, and senior services with the Community Resource Center’s $4.2 million annual budget and robust domestic violence programs and employment assistance.
Batt was poised to take over as CEO of the joined nonprofits once the merger was complete. Laurin Pause, the executive director of the Community Resource Center, had retired in July, but has since returned to her position.
The Community Resource Center did not respond to a request for comment.
The merger was to be finished by Dec. 31, but was called off on Dec. 11. An Interfaith press release attributed the suspension to the agencies’ inability to resolve issues including corporate identity, finances, unified governance, and the organizational culture.
But Coker noted that the merge has not been completely abandoned and may be resumed sometime in the future. “The merger is not entirely off the board,” he said.