Amy Acton out as CEO of Rapid 5: Board will run nonprofit, reallocate resources

Amy Acton out as CEO of Rapid 5: Board will run nonprofit, reallocate resources

Dr. Amy Acton has stepped down as the leader of Rapid 5 Nonprofit.

Rapid 5's board will reallocate its financial resources after Acton and COO Jennifer Peterson have left the organization.

As a startup we have to reallocate our resources. As we move into our next phase, as we focus on resources and long-term planning, we will also be focusing on sustainability", Michael Bongiorno of AECOM, a managing principal and member of the executive committee of the board, told Columbus Business First.

"She was a major contributor in the first phase of our nonprofit... But as we move on to the next phase, it is important to depend on resources and rely heavily on the board for help driving things forward."

Rapid 5 is Rivers and Parks + Imagination + Design and includes the five major waterways of Franklin County, including the Big Darby Creek and the Scioto River.

The nonprofit was founded after a 2021 collaborative study focused on the best way to activate and link the region's watersways.

The architectural firms AECOM MKSK Realm Collaborative NBBJ Edge and AECOM were asked to investigate what a more integrated system could look like. They added trails, created new parks, and highlighted the history of the places along the waterways in the region.

Acton's time at Rapid 5

Acton will be the CEO of this nonprofit in May 2022.

She led the Ohio Department of Health during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Acton was a household word during the pandemic due to daily press conferences she held with Gov. Mike DeWine. She left the Department of Health in June 2020.

She worked at the Columbus Foundation both before and after her tenure with the State. Peterson, who had been employed at Easton for many years, became COO of the non-profit last summer.

Acton stated in an email that it was an honor to bring together the community to share this vision of connecting us with nature and each other. "Now Rapid 5 embarks on the exciting next stage of its journey. An incredibly talented board is leading the way. They will ensure the vitality and beauty of our greenways, blueways, while putting nature at everyone's door."

Acton helped Rapid 5 get the 501c3 designation, form a board and raise $3 million of funding and commitments. Bongiorno stated that she was a key player in reaching out to the municipalities surrounding Rapid 5 and spreading the word about the organization.

Keith Myers is the chairman of Rapid 5's board. He said that the organization will focus its resources and attention on "the important task of strategic planning to ensure long-term sustainability."

Myers stated in a press release that "We are grateful to (Acton) for his invaluable leadership during the Rapid 5 startup phase." "Many of the accomplishments to date wouldn't have been possible without Acton’s leadership and support from the Rapid 5 team."

Bongiorno stated that Rapid 5 is currently being led by the board. No plans exist to find a new chief executive officer.

Myers, along with board treasurer Kerstin Car, who is employed by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission), will be responsible for day-to-day tasks. Bongiorno stated that consultants will provide additional support.

Bongiorno explained that strategic and operational plans will be developed as a result of the reallocation. He told me that we are at a "springboard moment".

The nonprofit was founded after a 2021 collaborative study focused on the best way to activate and link the region's watersways.

This vision is to increase connectivity and equity through encouraging local government agencies and private and public stakeholders to work together with nonprofit cultural and community-based organisations to grow central Ohio's greenways, waterways and trails.

Rapid 5 announced the founding board of its company in December.

The other members are Thrive Cos. president Mark Wagenbrenner, COSI CEO Frederic Bertley, Human Service Chamber of Franklin County executive director Michael Corey, Columbus Downtown Development Corp. CEO Greg Davies and Nationwide Realty Investors president Brian Ellis. Continental Real Estate Cos.'s Development President Jonathan Kass is also a member.

Bongiorno stated, "I think it should be crystal clear that the board is extremely excited and energized about the work that lies ahead." "I want to make it clear that we are absolutely confident and have faith in the work we will be able do going forward," Bongiorno said. We have some incredible momentum."