Family Justice Center seeks new director

  • 10/10/2011: B1:
    PC: Laura Colgate, the executive director of the Family Justice Center stands outside their new center on Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa.

The head of Sonoma County's new Family Justice Center on Thursday said she has been fired less than a year after she was appointed.

Laura Colgate said she was dismissed without notice on May 31 by District Attorney Jill Ravitch over what Colgate described as a "personality conflict" with the county's top law enforcement officer.

Colgate said Ravitch walked into her Mendocino Avenue office, told her to go and she was "out of there in minutes." She would not elaborate on the source of any dispute with Ravitch.

"I feel like I need to take the high road," said Colgate, who was a volunteer and project manager of the facility before being appointed in August. "This is probably the hardest thing that ever happened to me."

Ravitch wouldn't say why Colgate left. She said her position was temporary and was focused on launching the center last year.

"She did a good job getting the doors open," Ravitch said.

Sources suggested Ravitch was unhappy with Colgate's fundraising efforts and wanted someone who could drum up long-term financial support. The nonprofit center is supported largely by donations and grants.

"We're looking for someone to aggressively fundraise," said county Supervisor Shirlee Zane, a supporter of the center. "Laura did a fabulous job as interim and project manager."

But Colgate said she raised $630,000 during her tenure from individuals, government sources and non-monetary contributions. She described the amount as "huge" for the first year of a new nonprofit.

Colgate said the problem was one of style differences.

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