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Best & Worst Departures 2015-16

It’s been the year of the big-name turnover

BY May 27, 2016

The first in a series of surprises came in July 2015, when Hertz Chairman and CEO Mark Frissora stepped down in the middle of the car rental company’s Estero world headquarters construction. Though he cited personal reasons for leaving after more than eight years in the role, the resignation came amid considerable criticism of his performance.

John Cox was fired from his post of president and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce 14 months before his three-year contract was up, announced less than a month before his late September exit. Cox cleared up short-lived speculation when he revealed he was in fact terminated.

In October, Paul Woods resigned suddenly from Algenol. The outspoken co-founder of the biotechnology company has said he will remain on its board.

Lee County Schools Superintendent Nancy Graham stepped down in December, maybe slightly less unexpected, as it came on the coattails of multiple claims and controversies that led some to request her removal.

It’s Big Papi’s last stand, as decorated Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz confirmed on his 40th birthday in November that 2016 would be his final season. “I look around me and everyone is 20,” he was quoted as saying. “I think I’m ready.” Two other beloved masters of their crafts announced early their impending retirement. June 2017 will be the last leg of a 10-year tenure for Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson Bradshaw, he revealed in November. And Brian Holley, executive director of Naples Botanical Garden, announced a year in advance he will be leaving his decade-plus post at the end of 2016.

Katie Schweikhardt, who moved on in 2014 from three years at Harry Chapin Food Bank to become executive director of the United Arts Council of Collier County, returned to the community hunger cause in December as director of development for Meals of Hope. …

And last but not least, after seeing four restaurants fold since he burst onto the Southwest Florida scene in the summer of 2013, renowned chef Charles Mereday said “goodbye” to the Gulfshore in January. No pun intended, it seems he simply bit off more than he could chew. But the drama only proved his skills as a chef outweighed those as a businessman—his food has still left an undeniably favorable impression on our shores.

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