Rod Petrey - Floridian of the Year
Under Rod Petrey, the Collins Center for Public Policy has never been a traditional think tank. In 2010, Petrey took the center to new heights while leaving its mark on two of the year's thorniest issues.
In the works
Meanwhile in 2010, the center pursued other projects, including a development program for Lake Okeechobee's poor communities, even-handed evaluations of proposed amendments to the state constitution, and a redevelopment project in Overtown in Miami-Dade.
Ahead, Collins has begun working with an national mortgage player to mediate cases before they fall into foreclosure. It's received a $1-million donation for a project on Florida's future. Petrey also expects the center to do more on education and delve into immigration.
The center also has built a new financial infrastructure. Under Parker Thomson, the Miami attorney who heads the Collins board, the board is being restructured as a fundraising operation, bringing in a diverse group of young leaders. The effort has already paid dividends. Until two years ago, the center was operating on $3 million to $4 million a year. It now has a $10-million annual budget. "We know the foreclosure income isn't going to continue forever," Petrey says.
Also on the to-do list is finding a successor for Petrey, now 69, although he expects to stay in charge a few more years. "We're now poised for even better things in the future," Petrey says. "Building on (LeRoy) Collins' legacy is something I very much want to do before I move into the sunset."