Interim head of AIDS clinic to step down

May 26, 2008|By John Fritze | John Fritze,Sun Reporter

The interim head of one of Baltimore's leading AIDS clinics will step down this week - the second major shakeup at the financially troubled nonprofit in less than a year.

Susan Ahlstrom, who has served as interim chief executive officer of the Health Education Resource Organization Inc. since September, will step down Friday for personal reasons, according to board President Lenora Davis.

Davis said the organization is no longer conducting a national search for director - at least for now. Instead, she said she will take over as director and try to steer the organization toward financial health.

"We're still mending fences. We're still getting our financial picture back into good health," Davis said. "We're strong and viable and we're going to continue to grow."

Ahlstrom, who did not return a call seeking comment, replaced Leonardo R. Ortega, whose tenure lasted more than two decades and included allegations of financial improprieties. Ortega denied any wrongdoing at the time and no charges were filed despite several investigations.

Chris Leone, HERO's chief development officer, said the organization had expected Ahlstrom's interim tenure to end this year and said the group will begin a search for a permanent director in the future.

Last year, the city's Board of Estimates approved a $500,000, low-interest loan to HERO. Housing officials could not detail the status of that loan Friday because of the holiday weekend.

HERO, which assists more than 3,000 HIV and AIDS patients each year, has been in business since 1983.

Davis, who worked for 33 years at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has been with the organization for 14 years, according to a HERO news release.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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