At the end of June, Karen Phillips will be departing as executive director of Abyssinian Development Corporation, where she’s been on staff not only since the group’s founding in 1989, but previously as part of a group of volunteers who created the corporation as a project of Rev. Calvin Butts’ Abyssinian Baptist Church. Phillips is now being nominated by Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum to become a member of the City Planning Commission, and says she will also be pursuing “other new opportunities.” At Abyssinian, Phillips oversaw the construction or redevelopment of about 1,000 units of housing, and her organization was a critical player in ensuring that the buildings that fell prey to the HUD loan scandal remained affordable to Harlem residents. No word yet on who will take over the helm of Abyssinian Development.
Also on the move, after 13 years, Vivian Becker departed last week as executive director of the Pratt Area Community Council, the neighborhood development group covering Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and western Bedford-Stuyvesant. Under Becker, PACC took on everything from retail redevelopment to the creation of hundreds of units of housing to ambitious tenant organizing and homeownership education campaigns. Becker says that she’s just ready for a change: “I’m ready to face new challenges and take what I know and apply it in a new arena.” Filling in for Becker during a search for a new executive director are Chief Financial Officer Steve Aronson and Director of Homeowner Services Deb Howard.