April 23, 2014

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.

Mike Vogel | 1/1/2011

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."

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