Pittsburgh Filmmakers Head Resigns 18 Months Into A Tumultuous Job

Jul 18, 2018

Germaine Williams, CEO of the financially troubled Pittsburgh Filmmakers / Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, resigned Wednesday after 18 months on the job.

Board president Yasmeen Ariff-Sayedshe wrote a letter to "Friends of PF/PCA" Wednesday morning thanking Williams, who came to the group from the Pittsburgh Foundation, for his passion and service.

He gave no reason for stepping down, Ariff-Sayed said, but added that she and fellow board members had been expecting his resignation. She declined to comment further.

Ariff-Sayed described PF/PCA’s board, most of whose members joined during Williams’ abbreviated tenure, as “very activist.” She added, “To really turn things around, we had to get involved.”

She said the nonprofit appointed Dan Demicell as interim CEO. Demicell lives in Florida and has spent much of his career in retail, working with corporations including Foot Locker and Gimbels.

“We need that expertise to sell our product, which is art,” she said. She said the group will begin looking for a permanent CEO immediately.

PFPCA screens films at three theaters, puts on art exhibitions at its campuses in Oakland and Shadyside and offers art classes. The group had already been struggling financially for years when Williams was hired in January 2017. His welcome followed a particularly tumultuous year in 2015, when long-time executive director Charlie Humphrey resigned following a big round of layoffs.

Observers inside and outside the organization were hopeful that Williams’ foundation background – he was a senior program officer – would benefit the group, but layoffs and a steep decline in course enrollment continued. PCA’s Shadyside campus, with its four aging buildings, remained especially costly, contributing to PF/PCA's six-figure budget deficits.

In May, Williams shocked the local arts community by announcing that the group was canceling its fall classes in film and photography and putting its Oakland headquarters up for sale. WESA reported in June that Williams faced criticism from numerous current and former PF/PCA staffers, who charged him with mismanagement and with the verbal abuse of employees – allegations that Williams denied.

Ariff-Sayed confirmed Wednesday that PF/PCA is proceeding with plans to sell the Oakland facility on Melwood Avenue and with an effort to chart a new path forward.