A large nonprofit that has operated in Minnesota for more than a century is cutting costs in the wake of a revenue shortfall—and it is hiring a new financial leader in an attempt to right the ship.

Volunteers of America-Minnesota—which provides a broad set of housing, mental health, education, rehabilitation, and other services throughout the state—said earlier this month that it was freezing capital spending and cutting some jobs. The move was made in response to a $1.9 million revenue shortfall.

Now it's taking additional steps to shore up its financial situation.

While contributed revenue from donors is actually up at the organization, Volunteers of America-Minnesota was hit hard by the government shutdown and sequester. During the past six weeks, the organization has begun “rebuilding its finance organization from the top down,” spokesperson Jeff Smith told Twin Cities Business.

The efforts have reduced expenses by about $2.5 million during that period, in part through changes to its work force that have affected 52 employees—19 of whom were reassigned to different roles and 33 of whom were laid off. The 33 job losses constitute about 4 percent of the organization's total work force.

The nonprofit has also “renegotiated our banking relationship and other key stakeholder relationships, including our national organization,” all while keeping its clients and funders abreast of the changes, Smith said.

But the organization said that a key component for its turnaround attempt is the appointment of a new vice president to oversee its finances.

Athena Mihas—former director of finance for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota—will join Volunteers of America-Minnesota as vice president of finance on March 3. At Planned Parenthood, Mihas helped lead a multi-state nonprofit with a budget similar in size to Volunteers of America-Minnesota. (Volunteers of America-Minnesota merged with a Wisconsin affiliate last year; Mihas will oversee financial operations in both states.)

Prior to working at Planned Parenthood, Mihas served in senior financial and administrative leadership for three other health and human services agencies: Washburn Center for Children, Hearthstone of Minnesota, and Vistar Youth Horizons. Too, she spent eight years with Amicus, an organization that helps former inmates find jobs and housing. Amicus merged with Volunteers of America-Minnesota last year.

“We are delighted with Athena’s decision to join us,” President and CEO Paula Hart said in a statement. “Among her many attributes are her abilities to build collaborative relationships with operational leaders and to clearly communicate complex financial information to a variety of stakeholders.”

Mihas’ appointment is part of a larger restructuring of the organization’s leadership, and she effectively replaces the nonprofit’s former chief financial officer, “who exited as a result of the restructuring,” Smith said. She’s charged with helping shore up financial management issues that contributed to the nonprofit’s revenue crisis.

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