Executive Director of Wyoming Food For Thought Placed on Forced Admin Leave
Supporters of the Wyoming Food for Thought Project have written a letter to its current board members criticizing their recent placement of its Executive Director Jamie Purcell on a "forced administrative leave," according to a letter from founding member Donovan Short.
Purcell did not return calls made this morning.
In 2018 Donovan Short was recognized in the nation's capital for helping start the Wyoming Food for Thought Project, and the Stuff the Van Toy drive.
"WFFTP was created as a community based project to seek a local solution to hunger," Short wrote.
Their mission statement states:
"The Wyoming Food for Thought Project is an independent, local non-profit organization, focused on the concept of "Food Justice". Through our programs, we seek to forge partnerships and infuse the community with opportunities to access affordable and healthy food for everyone, regardless of socio-economic status."
"The success of the WFFTP rests solely, on the shoulders of Executive Director Jamie Purcell," wrote Donovan. "She cares the full responsibility for the organization, with little visible support from the board. All relationships with stakeholders and partners are directly with the Executive Director We have concerns that the commitment to the organization, is sorely lacking."
The addressees and current WFFTP board members are Board chairwoman Stephanie Sprecher, Leah Varela, Kate McNally, Shannon Rigali and Rachel Chadderdon.
Sprecher said "the Wyoming Food for Thought Project does not comment on personnel matters."
The signers of the letter are former board members and long-time WFFTP supporters Short, Kim Summerall-Wright, Cassandra Bush and Joe Dedic. (In full disclosure, Townsquare Media in Casper has been a long-time supporter of the Wyoming Food for Thought Project; and Short is the former operations manager of Townsquare.)
The authors assert that the current board did not consider the ramifications of the dismissal, the program, relationships or personal repercussions.
The board's decision did not include any communication or explanation to the stakeholders, funders or partners, according to the authors. (One funding source is some of the tax revenue from the One-Cent Optional Sales Tax No. 17. The Casper City Council tentatively approved allocating $90,000 to the WFFTP on April 25.)
The board did hire an attorney, and the letter's authors said they have learned that longterm partners will likely end their relationship with the nonprofit regardless of the outcome of any investigation. "The actions of the board have destabilized the organization."
That "shows a lack of public relations experience and situational awareness," they wrote,
The authors wrote they understand that the current board members feel they are doing what is necessary, but it gives the appearance of a predetermined outcome without Purcell having the opportunity to face them and respond appropriately.
Likewise, the decision would damage WFFTP's financial health and ability to keep its volunteers and partners, they wrote.
The authors also ask the current board members to step down for the good of the organization.
In an email sent to the K2Radio News team on Sunday, Short wrote, "While the board's internal motivations behind this remain unclear -- what is crystal, is that it's completely irresponsible for a board to remove an organization's founder undercover with zero due process, for an 'alleged' personnel matter that if even true -- would be deemed minor at any organization I've ever been a part of."
Short claims Purcell's office was cleared out and boxes stacked on her front porch. He believes the board is "rushing it [their investigation] through" and "plan to meet with her Wednesday with what appears to be a predetermined outcome."
"The organization's donors, volunteers, employees and founders deserve immediate answers and transparency -- as does the community WFFTP serves."