YWCA official terminated; another resigns

GLENDALE — The executive director of the YWCA of Glendale was terminated Wednesday by the organization's Board of Directors — three months after she assumed the position, prompting a board member to resign in protest.

In a special meeting Wednesday evening, the board voted to terminate Jacqueline Jones-Love in response to "substantial allegations" against her, according to interviews and written correspondence from board members.

Jones-Love said she was stunned when board President Valerie Merritt and another board member met with her Thursday morning and told her they had "decided to make a change."

"It was a complete surprise to me," she said. "I was terminated without any warning. I had been told that I was doing a good job by the board."

She was not given any details on the allegations against her, Jones-Love said, adding that the organization was a difficult workplace to manage.

"At this point, I am looking into my options," she said. "At the minimum, they should have provided me with a list of concerns and an opportunity to correct them."

Merritt would not comment on the allegations made against Jones-Love, but board member Delilah Lanoix-Harris on Thursday resigned her position in protest.

In her resignation letter, Lanoix-Harris said Jones-Love "was clearly denied due process in that the unsubstantiated allegations made against her were neither confirmed, nor was she afforded the opportunity to respond or be heard." Lanoix-Harris did not delineate any of the allegations in her letter.

She also stated that the firing could appear "racially motivated" because Jones-Love is black.

"Being the only 'nay' vote on the motion to terminate her clearly validated the belief that my appeal for basic fairness would fall on other board members' deaf ears," Lanoix-Harris said in the letter.

Merritt denied any allegations of unfair termination or discrimination.

"I can tell you that there were substantial allegations made, that they were investigated and reviewed and this was not a decision lightly taken," Merritt said.

Jones-Love had led the nonprofit since May, replacing Darryl Peters, who served as interim executive director since the resignation of Richard Burrell in January. Burrell had taken over the troubled nonprofit more than six years ago to revamp its finances, but clashed with some staff along the way.

Peters left in June for the top job at the YWCA of San Gabriel Valley, Merritt said.

The YWCA of Glendale — which offers services for women and children, with a focus on domestic violence victims — was forced to reduce the number of beds at its 24-hour women's shelter and eliminate three positions amid deep state funding cuts in the winter.

Jones-Love had only recently begun to make the rounds in the community. She publicly introduced herself on July 29 at a meeting of the city's Community Development Block Grant Committee Advisory Committee.

"I look forward to working with you," she told the committee, which has allocated grants to the nonprofit.

Members of the local nonprofit community said they were surprised by Jones-Love's departure — the latest management shake-up for the nonprofit.

Camille Levee, executive director of Glendale Healthy Kids, met Love at a coalition meeting of local nonprofit executives and said she learned of her departure in an e-mail from Jones-Love.

"Jacqueline appeared to be very professional and competent and was looking at opportunities to further the YWCA's mission in Glendale, so this comes as a real surprise," Levee said.

Paula Devine, chairwoman of the Commission on the Status of Women, which works closely with the YWCA on domestic violence and women's issues, said she hoped the nonprofit would move quickly to fill the void "so that we can get the Y organized and efficient in supporting the programs."

Merritt said the board will search for a new executive director from outside the organization.

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