The Collider shifts leadership, seeks path to financial sustainability

THE LONG VIEW: On June 5, The Collider announced that building owner Claire Callen will take over as president and chair of the nonprofit's board, with responsibility for daily operations. The organization has recently been considering its options in light of having failed to achieve financial sustainability over three years of operation. Photo by Virginia Daffron

The Collider, Asheville’s visionary climate-science-focused event convener, office space and meeting venue, has run into some quotidian realities. Despite contributions of over $2.5 million from founder Mack Pearsall spread over three years, the nonprofit “has not yet achieved financial self-sustainability,” according to a press release.

Discussions over the past several weeks about The Collider’s future included an option to suspend the organization’s operations entirely. Instead, The Collider told Xpress on June 5, building owner Claire Callen will take over as the nonprofit’s board chair and president, with all responsibility for operating the space. Pearsall will remain on the board and “continue as a strong supporter of the organization.”

In addition to Pearsall, other board members listed on The Collider’s website include George Briggs, executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum; James McMahon, CEO of The Climate Service; and Michael Tanner.

Callen and Miami-based Ocean-Asheville purchased the Wells Fargo Building at 1 Haywood St. in 2013. On March 11, 2016, The Collider opened in 6,000 square feet on the building’s fourth floor, which totals 25,000 square feet and is known as the Callen Center. According to the press release, “Currently, there are some 60 businesses, organizations and individuals who … range from micro-entrepreneurs who use a coworking desk or small office, to fast-growing companies with projects and clients across the country, to two international organizations with satellite offices at the downtown Asheville location.”

Callen subsidized the space over an 18-month initial startup period to encourage the development of “an ecosystem of climate scientists and entrepreneurs,” according to Callen, Pearsall and Thomas Karl, retired director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, in a 2017 Xpress article.

While June 5 press release advises that Callen says “it’s business as usual” for those seeking office or meeting space at The Collider, the new president was not immediately available for comment, and information on the future of its signature events, including ClimateCon and [Food + Beverage] Collider, has not been released.

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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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7 thoughts on “The Collider shifts leadership, seeks path to financial sustainability

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Not surprising, as more people become aware of the global hoax of climate change … but they did get to host Hitlary a couple times so it was worth it all…

    • Mike R.

      What is your view on the cause of the changes we’re seeing in the earth’s atmospheric temperature and more energetic climate events??

  2. Mike

    The Climate has ALWAYS changed and ALWAYS will. Only 20,000 years ago much of North America was iced covered. Human activity has negligible if any impact on long term climate or temperature. (I have a PhD in Math from UNC, an MS in Computer Science, and a BS in Physics. I have spent a career as a research scientist (Professor) at a top 20 public research university with primary research focus on building computer models of physical systems and am still engaged in that activity at 70) — One day the earth WILL experience unsurvivable global warming — google “Sun Red giant”

  3. luther blissett

    Leaving the “who cares about climate change because I’ll be dead” brigade to talk the usual nonsense among themselves, the Collider has always seemed like a regular ol’ coworking / small office / event space with especially fancy branding, that is, one of those Asheville nonprofits. While a lot of the members are related to climate tech (and some do NOAA work in the federal building) you’ve also got a design studio, a law firm, a “virtual B2B inside sales team” and a photographer. Which is fine enough, because it’s downtown office space, but is it much more than that?

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