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North Bay Business Journal

Thursday, May 16, 2013, 6:55 am

Nonprofit COTS picks new CEO

COO Johnson to take helm of non-profit for the homeless

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    PETALUMA — The nonprofit organization Committee on the Shelterless, better known as COTS, announced a shift in leadership, with Mike Johnson, the agency’s chief operating officer, assuming the role of chief executive officer.

    John Records

    Effective July 1, Mr. Johnson will replace current and longtime Executive Director John Records, who will be transitioning to the COTS board of directors, where he will continue in an advisory role for fundraising and development of programs, according to the Petaluma nonprofit that serves the homeless and provides transitional and temporary housing.

    The change in leadership is part of a strategic plan to coincide with the 25th anniversary of COTS, officials said. Mr. Records has served as executive director for 21 of those years. He will continue to assist the organization, founded in 1988, with research and collaborative efforts, including an ongoing partnership with the University of Albany, New York.

    “I feel great satisfaction having guided COTS to its 25th successful year including gaining national recognition for our work to transform lives,” Mr. Records said in a statement.  “I am proud to be part of the team that has built a strong foundation for COTS, including mentoring my successor, to ensure that we continue to provide award-winning services to our community for many years to come.”

    His successor, Mr. Johnson, has been with COTS since 1999 and become COO in 2010. He manages day-to-day operations at the nonprofit, which has an annual budget of $3 million, a staff of 30 full-time employees and 120 volunteers who account for roughly 40,000 hours.

    “Our goal at COTS is to continue to provide the outstanding services and programs that have effectively and successfully transformed the lives of thousands of people in our community,” Mr. Johnson said.  “The agency’s number one priority will be support for our “Invest in Miracles” development strategy to sustain the long-term health of our programs for homeless families and adults.”

    COTS currently offers nearly 319 bed per night for those without shelter, including 177 children last year, and its kitchen serves more than 126,000 meals per year, delivering over 762,000 pounds of food annually.

    In addition to providing shelter, COTS has a significant positive impact on Petaluma’s local economy, according to a 2012 study by Economic Forensics & Analytics, which is run by Dr. Robert Eyler, who is also director of Sonoma State University’s executive MBA progam and Center for Regional Economic Analysis.

    Without the services provided by COTS, businesses across Petaluma would lose over $20.6 million annually, according to the report. Businesses would lose the ability to support about 124 jobs, and the city would no longer generate approximately $1.66 million of state and local revenue due to lost business activity.

    A reduction in services by COTS is akin to a tax of about 1 percent, according to the study, which would result in overall business revenues in downtown Petaluma falling by slightly more than $1.1 million. The lost revenues would no longer support some 13 jobs, and Petaluma would lose more than $424,000 in local annual tax revenue. Business impacted would likely include grocers, accounting, financial and medical services, bars and restaurants, wholesale businesses that sell good to retailers and bars and restaurants, and residential care facilities, according to the study. ‘

    “If an inability to develop enough funding at COTS led to fewer people served, and thus more homeless people on the streets of downtown Petaluma without services, local businesses will experience lower revenues,” the study notes.

    The nonprofit also boasts a higher than national average with regard to transitioning individuals from emergency shelters to transitional housing and from transitional housing to permanent housing, according to a 2012 study by the the National Alliance to End Homelessness

    At COTS, 30 percent of its participants leaving the Mary Isaak Center’s emergency shelter go into permanent housing, and 77 percent of families and adults leaving transitional housing obtain permanent homes, compared to national rates of 15 percent and 40 percent, respectively, according to the study.  

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