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Controversial PTS president resigns

New prez claims end of personality politics

BOOK SMART. Michael Henschel took over from ex-president Richard Montminy May 8. He's a research scientist and professor with a background in finances at not-for-profits. Credit: (Etienne Ranger)

In a curt resignation e-mailed to his board, Richard Montminy ended his two-year stint as president just six weeks before the Pink Triangle Services’ annual general meeting.

“My experience at PTS has definitely been educational and it is not something that I will soon forget,” Montminy wrote in his four-sentence resignation letter obtained by Capital Xtra. The e-mail is dated May 6.

Montminy has been replaced by Michael Henschel, a research scientist and professor who’s been serving on PTS’s board of directors since 2005.

According to Henschel, Montminy had prepared the board for his departure and the tone of his resignation was not an expression of hostility.

“That’s Richard, to be honest. We had some fair advanced warning,” he says.

A year ago, the organization’s executive director and two of her staff resigned, leaving the board with just one employee. At the time, then-executive director Michelle Reis-Amores cited board interference and micromanagement as the reasons for her departure.

“Those allegations were never, in my mind, founded,” says Henschel, who was the board’s treasurer throughout 2006.

“There were clearly things that changed over his time [at PTS]. We did a lot of work to stabilize the organization. We’re in a position now to implement a lot of what we’ve been working on for the last year. So, we’re moving forward.”

Henschel began his time at PTS in the summer of 2005. Soon after, the group’s troubled financial management came to light. Fresh to Ottawa from Nova Scotia, Henschel was surprised when he landed in the middle of the board’s four-ring circus, highlighted by the executives’ soap opera of personal relationships, the board’s lack of liability insurance, the discovery of $1000 in stale-dated donor cheques, and questions surrounding whether the board was legally able to govern the organization.

“I have a thick skin. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, it’s important work. It needed to get done,” he says.

He also thinks that his outsider status paid off in his early days at the organization.

“It let me make my own decisions and take myself out of the personality politics. Actually, I think that’s one of the things that I’ve been able to contribute over the last two years is to step away from personality politics,” he says.

Henschel spent 10 years as the director of a research department which was good training in finances, he says. He was also the treasurer of the provincial NDP in Nova Scotia before coming to Ottawa.

The new president is hoping to recruit a new executive director. Wayne Adams, PTS’s interim executive director, is wrapping up as this issue goes to print. The organization has been looking for a new executive director since at least October. They had found a candidate — who accepted the job — until a personal matter prevented her from following through.

“We had a great set of candidates in the first round. We had a hard time picking who to interview,” he says.

Richard Montminy did not respond to our requests for an interview.