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The head of the Bar Association of San Francisco announced her resignation Wednesday after a rocky, 14-month tenure. Teveia Barnes, the association’s executive director, said she will step down in April, giving the board of directors time to find a replacement whom she could help transition. “I’m sad to leave,” Barnes said. “It was a short stay, but I also know I need to do what’s important for me.” Barnes said she hasn’t yet found a new job. Barnes’ tenure as the replacement for Drucilla Ramey, BASF’s colorful and charismatic leader of 17 years, was complicated by financial problems and dissension among BASF’s 90-member staff. Barnes instituted new budgeting and accounting policies that put the organization’s finances under closer scrutiny. But those efforts were met with resistance, said members of BASF’s board of directors. Jeffrey Bleich, BASF’s president and a Munger, Tolles & Olson partner, said Barnes had a tough job replacing the wildly popular Ramey. Bleich lauded Barnes for a job well done and said he’s sorry she’s leaving. “The board and officers think she did a wonderful job putting the organization on solid footing financially and organizationally,” Bleich said. He added in an e-mail that the board supported Barnes’ efforts to upgrade BASF’s financial and accounting systems. “It took real leadership, skill and courage to implement the changes necessary to bring the bar to its current sound financial footing,” Bleich said. Bleich refused to disclose BASF’s annual budget, but a director who spoke on condition of anonymity said in 2002, the organization faced a $1 million shortfall on an annual budget of about $3 million. Part of the problem, according to Barnes and several directors, was a falloff in dues and grant funding. The financial woes were made worse by an accounting error made prior to Barnes’ joining BASF that was uncovered during the summer, said one director, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. When the mistake was uncovered, BASF discovered it faced a bigger gap between revenue and expenses than was first believed. The financial crunch forced BASF to lay off 16 employees in July. That, in turn, caused a severe backlash among staff, directors said. The most significant sign of trouble came in August when an anonymous letter, purportedly from BASF employees, was sent to the officers on the BASF board. The letter detailed complaints about Barnes and said that under her leadership, the bar had become too focused on the bottom line at the expense of programs. The directors responded with a vote of confidence, but hired a professional facilitator to help employees and Barnes get along better, said the director. Barnes said she also offered to resign, but the board turned her down. “The staff was so upset,” Barnes said. “I wanted to be sure the board had the leader they were comfortable with.” The experience prompted Barnes to do some soul-searching, and she said she missed practicing law and doing more hands-on social work. She said she wanted to resign early on in Bleich’s term as president so he could get to know and work with her replacement. The committee that selected Barnes will reconvene and begin contacting applicants who had expressed interest when she was hired, said Lindbergh Porter Jr., a former BASF president, chairman of the search committee and a partner at Allen Matkins Leck Gamble & Mallory. Tiela Chalmers, the managing attorney of BASF’s Volunteer Legal Services Program, said the organization is better off with the changes Barnes made. Barnes taught the employees to face budgeting in more systematic and efficient ways. But, she said, the layoff rattled workers, and they took it out on Barnes. “You don’t associate [layoffs] with nonprofits, and that was a dramatic cultural change,” Chalmers said. “[Barnes] was at the helm when that happened and everyone’s feelings came bubbling over. “

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