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Interim director selected as Humane Society flap goes on

The Kitsap Humane Society’s board of directors has selected a new interim executive director for the nonprofit.

Details surrounding the selection were not available Wednesday night, said Abby Ouimet, the Humane Society’s director of public relations.

However, a press released issued by the Humane Society on Thursday identified the new interim director as Eric Stevens. According to the release, Stevens has more than 25 years in management for various nonprofit organizations, most recently serving as the development director for the Bloedel Reserve.

The selection of an Stevens comes nearly a month after the nine-member board parted ways with former executive director Sean Compton.

The sudden departure of Compton drew criticism on the website www.change.org, where an online petition was started alleging mismanagement by the nonprofit’s volunteer board, ranging from financial dealings to tampering with board meeting minutes,

The petition called for an election of the board by donors in March. Started anonymously, more than 250 people have signed the petition.

But not everyone agrees the board of directors is mired in mismanagement and cronyism.

Melissa Byrd worked at KHS from 1997 to 2007 as adoption outreach coordinator. She is outraged by the allegations in the petition, saying whoever started it has little or no know-ledge of the inner workings of the Humane Society.

“The stuff behind said in the petition is slanderous,” she said. “It’s also just plain wrong.”

Byrd, who is “still close” with many on the board of directors, outlined a variety of missteps in the online petition. She claimed that one of the board’s main functions is to choose a competent executive director, who then makes most of the decisions about contracting and financial matters.

“All this stuff they are claiming — financial mismanagement — is all stuff the executive director is in charge of,” she said.

Byrd said some of the online comments are made by former board members who left, “in a huff after not getting their way.” She also said the idea that the board of directors would ever use the Humane Society for personal benefit, especially financially, is ridiculous.

“If they’re lining their pockets while they are there, why would they donate first?” she said.

Byrd said the board has a vacancy, and those who think they are qualified are encouraged to apply.

Dana Lerma, former development manager at KHS, was released by Compton shortly after he came to the nonprofit in 2010. Like Byrd, she said the online petition was baseless.

“I will state unequivocally that the allegations in that petition are not true,” Lerma said. “Unless something has happened in the two years since I’ve been gone and have become completely different people, everything (the board) did, everything they gave, was to help the shelter.”

Lerma said she hopes that people who are signing the petition understand that they are doing more harm than good. All the negativity surrounding the shelter and the directors, she said, affects the animals.

“Donors stop their support when they see these allegations,” she said. “Who winds up suffering are the animals.”

Byrd said she believed a statement was being drafted by the board to address allegations of mismanagement and a possible investigation into Compton’s departure. But Ouimet said a news release would only announce the new interim executive director, and would not include any other sort of statement from the board.

 

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