After ousting its former chief executive, the Camillus House homeless shelter has turned to a past director of Miami-Dade’s homeless services to take over the Miami nonprofit.
Hilda Fernandez, a former top Miami Beach administrator and director of Miami-Dade’s Homeless Trust, assumes the CEO post at Camillus next month, replacing Bob Dickinson. Dickinson, the retired head of Carnival Cruise Lines and longtime chairman of the Camillus board, took over as acting CEO in October after presiding over the dismissal of the charity’s former chief executive, Shed Boren.
In Fernandez, Camillus hired a veteran of the county’s communications and government circles. Once the chief spokeswoman for county government under mayors Alex Penelas and Carlos Alvarez, the former television reporter served six years as assistant city manager in Miami Beach. Then she served two years as director of the Homeless Trust, the county agency that oversees the spending of the special restaurant tax that funds Miami-Dade’s homeless grants.
“I understand what the overall system of care was developed to look like,” said Fernandez, currently head of advancement and communication at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens. “I understand the value of the system.”
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Fernandez’s hire sets in motion a significant reworking of the leadership at Camillus, which reports serving about 17,000 homeless men, women and children each year.
I understand the value of the system.
Incoming Camillus House CEO Hilda Fernandez
Boren, a former hospital administrator, ran both the general services and health arm of Camillus, a charity governed by the Catholic Church. Fernandez will only run Camillus House, while Camillus Health conducts a separate search for a CEO. Alan Greer, who took over as interim chairman when Dickinson replaced Boren, will remain as head of the board and Dickinson will serve as chairman emeritus, spokesman Sam Gil said.
As part of Fernandez’s hire, Camillus also promoted vice president Eddie Gloria to the newly created post of chief operating officer.
Camillus recently announced it plans to halt offering showers, meals and mail service to homeless people not living in the 1,100-bed Camillus system. It cited a cut in federal funds tied to a loss of about $6 million in grants under the Obama administration to Miami-Dade’s Homeless Trust last year.
“We need to decide what parts of our system need to remain, and what parts need to be jettisoned,” Gloria said Monday. “Our finances are evolving. I think we’re on firm ground.”
With the shower program set to end July 1, Fernandez said she will evaluate whether to finalize the cost-savings measure as she oversees a broader review of the nonprofit’s operations and a budget of roughly $20 million.
“Right now we’re trying to figure out the impact from the [Trump] administration,” she said, “and how it’s going to affect homeless services across the country and in Miami.”