IN A SURPRISE MOVE, Harrise Yaron, president of the Pennsylvania SPCA's Board of Directors since November 2008, resigned in a letter sent out Sunday night, creating fresh turmoil for the humane organization.
Yaron told me yesterday in an exclusive interview that she resigned because "it was time for me to move on."
She denied a claim I heard from others that she had been forced out. Board member Jim Penny, an attorney, said it was "absolutely false" that Yaron had been forced out.
Until a new leader is appointed, leadership will be provided by the executive committee. A regularly scheduled board meeting was held on Thursday, led by secretary Amy Norr and attended by telephone by PSPCA Vice President Jennifer Utley, wife of Phillies All-Star Chase Utley. Norr did not return a phone call before deadline.
Yaron said the only pressure for her to resign was "my own pressure." She plans "to work on the federal level regarding animal legislative issues."
She declined to reveal how she would do that. She is married to politically connected, deep-pockets developer Michael Yaron and is the sister of Jodi Goldberg, another animal activist, who remains on the PSPCA board.
Yaron said she had been on the PSPCA board for about seven years, which included a brief period of overlap when she was also a board member of PACCA, the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Agency, which held the city contract for animal control. After Yaron left the PACCA board, the PSPCA wrested control of the city contract from PACCA and created the Animal Care and Control Team to fulfill the contract.
Glamorous and always fashionably dressed, Yaron deeply loves animals, has more energy than a nuclear plant and is impatient, determined and tightly focused. At PACCA meetings she often wanted things done either yesterday or her way, and sometimes both.
Her focus was seen by some as tunnel vision and an unwillingness to work with others.
Garrett Elwood, president of Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia, didn't mourn her resignation and hoped "this marks the end of an era of partisanship and negativity which ran counter to the needs of the innocent animals."
As the leadership of PSPCA had begun to transfer from Richard "Bo" Sperry to Yaron, Howard Nelson was hired as the CEO of PSPCA in March 2007. Within a year stories began to surface about unorthodox procedures at PSPCA, and Nelson suddenly resigned in February of this year. An interim CEO was brought in, succeeded by Sue Cosby in June.
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