EDITORIAL: CADA owes us an explanation

Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse has long been a valuable asset to the Whidbey Island community, but its board of directors has some explaining to do.

In a secret vote, the board on March 1 fired CADA’s long-time executive director, Val Stafford. The move came as shock to those who for the last eight years have known Stafford as one of the most effective non-profit agency heads in Island County.

Stafford, through her managerial and fund-raising skills, invigorated CADA to the point that its services are now essential to law enforcement and other agencies that deal with battered and abused women and children. Thanks in large part to Stafford’s efforts, CADA can provide shelter to victims, counseling to help them recover, legal advocacy and long-term support groups.

Much of CADA’s services are funded through through competitive grants that Stafford was a master at acquiring.

Stafford has said enough that we know a couple of disgruntled former CADA employees had complaints about her management style, but she was never given a chance to formally respond to those allegations. Up until March 1 her performance reviews were exemplary, and then she was summarily fired.

Lynn Wilcox, vice president of the board, won’t comment publicly about the board’s reasoning in firing CADA’s long-time director. Private, non-profit corporations are not subject to state open meeting laws, but nevertheless CADA is a quasi-public agency, using public funds to help the needy. An explanation is in order. Many people now benefitting from CADA’s services are no doubt wondering if support will continue to be available. Who can step in and do the fund-raising job Stafford did?

The entire situation smacks of sophomoric decision-making, based on personal feelings rather than what is best for CADA, and what is best for the community. Harsh, perhaps, but that’s the only judgement we can make until CADA’s board decides to do the right thing and explain its actions.

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