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Rodale Departures Blamed on Discontent with CEO Maria Rodale

Uh oh.  Rodale has been experiencing some staff departures lately. And sources are telling Fortune that the culprit is discontent with the leadership of Maria Rodale, who became CEO in 2009.

This certainly doesn’t seem like a coincidence:

A spokesperson for Rodale confirmed that the following people left or were fired in 2011: chief information officer Ken Citron; Jack Essig, publisher of Men’s Health; Andrew Livingston, director of consumer engagement; David Marchi, senior vice president of global marketing; chief marketing officer Gregg Michaelson; Mary Murcko, executive vice president and group publisher; Karen Rinaldi, executive vice president and books publisher; Bill Stump, senior vice president and editorial director; and Valerie Valente, a vice president in custom publishing. Rodale.com general manager David Kang, communications executive vice president Robin Shallow and executive vice president and group publisher MaryAnn Bekkedahl also left after Rodale became CEO.

This is in addition to the recent departure of  senior vice president of international operations, Michelle Meyercord, and vice president James Kreckler.

That’s a lot of employees, the bulk of whom were based in New York. It’s kind of hard to blame it on the nature of the biz or just a “new direction” as Maria Rodale had suggested in a statement.

Apparently, the initial decision to give her the CEO position, when she was the editor of Organic Gardening, was the start of frustration among employees who didn’t think she was right for the job. Subsequently, there were also concerns about the leadership team that she developed.

Another point of contention? Her blog, Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen, which garnered both derision and jokes.

Of course, not everyone is dismayed. Dave Zinczenko, whom Maria Rodale promoted to editorial director, told Fortune, “If Rodale were a publicly traded company, I’d be telling my broker to plow everything I have into it.”

Time will certainly tell.

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