Clearwater Looking for a Fair Wind

Executive director resigns after 18 months

By Kevin E. Foley

The environmental organization Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, founded and long inspired by folk singer Pete Seeger, has come into some stormy weather as it tries to develop a way forward in the aftermath of Seeger’s death two years ago.

This week the group announced it has parted ways with its executive director, Peter Gross, after only 18 months.

Peter Gross

Peter Gross (file photo)

Last week Clearwater canceled plans for its annual summer Hudson River Revival, a weekend fundraiser of concerts, cultural events and environmental education featuring big-name acts from the world of rock and folk music.

When Gross, a lawyer and television production executive, was hired in May 2014, the Clearwater board, headed by Anne Osborn, heralded his “extensive nonprofit and business experience.” The head of the search committee, Dr. William Frank, described Gross as a leader with proven management ability who would be able to…build and maintain financial stability and forge consensus for change while remaining faithful to our underlying values.”

In a Clearwater statement on his resignation this week, Gross is quoted as saying he was stepping down because of “significant differences between his and the organization’s vision to the path to building a stronger future for Clearwater and dealing with the organization’s long-standing financial and structural challenges.”

In the same statement, Clearwater said: “In light of the recent announcement to cancel this year’s Great Hudson River Revival to focus on the restoration of the iconic sloop Clearwater, the search for a new executive director will be postponed.”

The sloop is currently in Kingston undergoing extensive repairs to meet Coast Guard specifications for sailing on the Hudson River. The New York State government has awarded the organization a matching grant of $340,000 with the obligation to raise the remaining $500,000. In Clearwater’s own words that “has placed a great financial burden on the small non-profit.”

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