Updated on 01/25/2013 7:41PM

McClain resigning as NYRA's chief operating officer, president


Ellen McClain, the chief operating officer and president of the New York Racing Association, announced at the association’s full board meeting Friday in Manhattan that she has submitted her resignation but will stay on during a “transitional period” as the association searches for a chief executive.

McClain, 48, announced her decision at the tail end of a 15-minute presentation on NYRA’s future plans. Her voice cracked as she briefly announced her resignation to the board. The board’s chairman, David Skorton, then thanked McClain for her service and announced that a search for a chief executive would be “expedited.”

Asked why she chose Friday's meeting to announce her resignation, McClain said, "Today we finally had our deal squared away. We had to come to amicable [financial] terms. It took a while to get that done."

McClain has agreed to remain in her role as president and COO until "March 31 or April 30," assuming that a new president is put in place by then.

:: More about the NYRA board's Friday meeting

McClain, who was widely respected for her attention to operational and financial detail, was hired by NYRA in 2009 as the association’s chief financial officer. She was promoted to chief operating officer in 2011.

McClain, who has a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School, became the operational head of NYRA with the firing last May of Charles Hayward, the association’s last chief executive officer. Last year, she was named one of the “25 Influential Black Women in Business” by The Network Journal. NYRA is expected to announce its first operational profit in a decade when its 2012 financial results are announced later this year.

NYRA’s management has been under intense fire over the past 13 months by state regulators and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who engineered a state takeover of NYRA’s board late last year.

- additional reporting by David Grening