Bloodletting at Fla. Blood Centers
Did a too-cozy relationship with her board lead to Anna Chinoda's downfall?
Chinoda, 50, oversaw an operation that spans 21 counties.? [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
But Chinoda's rising-star status began to erode earlier this year after she accepted a $71,000 pay raise, bumping her salary to $605,000, then laid off 42 employees. She also faced accusations that some of the center's board members were selling goods and services to the center, which spurred an investigation by state Sen. Don Gaetz and his health regulation committee. Surveys of blood donors, meanwhile, showed that some had stopped giving and wouldn't resume until Chinoda stepped down. In March, she did.
Chinoda's downfall offers lessons in how relationships between non-profit CEOs and executive boards can become unhealthy, says William Andrews, a Stetson University business professor. Chinoda had been CEO since 2003 but had worked for the center for more than 20 years. Leighton Yates, the board's chairman since 1995, first joined the board more than 30 years ago. With
no term limits for board members, the relationship between a board and a
CEO can become too cozy, Andrews says, particularly given the two-tiered structure of many non-profit boards, including the blood center's.
Typically, he says, a small executive committee along with the CEO will make most of the important decisions, while a larger general board has less influence. FBC's executive committee currently has three members, and its general board has 25, down from as many as 40 last year. Some general board members left in recent months because of concerns over how Chinoda was running the organization.
"The larger a board gets, the more likely it's controlled by the executive officer," Andrews says. "The system of checks and balances that is intended to exist between a board and the executive officers begins to erode. I think the lesson is this shows the importance of board independence from the executive officers."
Susan Forbes, the center's vice president of marketing and donor recruitment, says FBC has already moved to impose term limits on board members and now prohibits "related-party transactions" between board members and the organization.
"We are moving in the right direction," Forbes says, "as we rebuild our business to function more effectively, competitively and openly."