The former executive director of University Park Alliance, whose leadership of the troubled economic development group has been questioned since he left a year ago, has resigned from his job in Charlotte, N.C.
Eric Anthony Johnson was chief development officer of Horizon Development, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Charlotte Housing Authority. He took that job last summer after tendering his resignation from UPA on April 4.
According to Shaunte Evans, chief administrative officer for the Charlotte Housing Authority, Johnson tendered his resignation April 2 of this year. No further information about his resignation was available from the agency.
However, in a telephone interview, Johnson said he offered his resignation after articles and an editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal outlining UPA’s problems began appearing. He disputes the allegations being made by community leaders and the UPA’s former major funding source, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, but said he did not want to negatively affect the Charlotte Housing Authority.
“There’s this thing out there with this misperception of fraud. When someone puts that stuff out there, whether real or imagined, it can do significant damage to one’s career,” Johnson said.
He said he’s not sure what he will do next, adding that he is dealing with the death of his mother in early March.
Johnson resigned from UPA — a business/community/University of Akron collaborative — last April as the organization was beginning to unravel. Financial support from the Knight Foundation was being put on hold, then was canceled.
Officials say Johnson was not forthcoming with information, overpromised developers and left the organization in financial straits.
The organization is mired in several lawsuits.
David James, the superintendent of Akron Public Schools and UPA’s board chair, and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic both declined to comment on Johnson’s resignation.
Last month, Plusquellic asked his law department to consider hiring an outside investigator to look into problems at UPA and Johnson’s possible role in them. He said Friday that the law department is continuing to research the matter.