It was not anything personal, said Stephen Rapundalo to Skip Simms, who was sitting across the U-shaped configuration of tables from Rapundalo. He had just voted against Simms’ appointment to the Local Development Finance Authority board.
But over Rapundalo’s objection, shared also by his colleague on the board, Rob Risser, the body voted to add an ex-officio, non-voting seat to the LDFA board, which was filled by Simms. The occasion of the vote on Tuesday morning, held at the SPARK Central Incubator on Liberty Street, was the LDFA board’s regular meeting, which was also billed as a retreat – a facilitator was on hand to lead the group through an exercise to reflect on the organization’s purpose.
As Rapundalo’s assurance to Simms reflected, the new seat on the board was not created for Simms personally, but rather was specified as the designee of “the accelerator’s CEO,” who in this case was Michael Finney of Ann Arbor SPARK. Finney had designated Simms. SPARK contracts with the LDFA to provide services to high-tech start-up companies, and Simms is SPARK’s managing director of business acceleration as well as manager of the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund.
Simms already had a seat at the physical board table when the board’s deliberations took place on the creation of the ex-officio position. So why were Rapundalo and Risser opposed to the expansion of the board in this way?