Megan Nordvedt, the longtime executive director of the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge, has been asked to step down, the center’s board announced Wednesday.
Tom Reynolds, chairman of the center’s board of directors, said that the decision was born out of an 18-month evaluation by the consulting Center for Nonprofit Management, and a need for the center to focus on raising money to upgrade its facilities.
“We’ve been working really hard figuring out what to do. We’ve got an aging facility, we’re facing some sort of capital campaign of some sort, or negotiation with government bodies to see if we can get an environment that’s good for a community center,” Reynolds said.
As a result of that, “the Board has decided to make a change in the Executive Director position to better suit the newly defined goals and long-term strategic direction for the Center,” a press release said. “The job has been posted and the final details of the hiring process are being worked out.”
Reynolds said that the board was faced with a tough decision because of Nordvedt’s long experience at the center, but decided to replace her.
“We really agonized over this, but we think it was the right thing to do,” he said. “We needed skill sets that were not present in our executive staff.”
Reynolds said the board is looking for candidates with experience in parks and recreation and working with cities, as well as with fundraising and financial experience.
“We’ve had people in the past who’ve had a master’s degree in public administration,” Reynolds said. “We’d love to have someone like that, at that level, and someone who’s experienced both a building project, and a capital campaign project,” he said.
Nordvedt, who held the executive director’s job for the past four years and worked at the center even longer, said the termination came as a shock.
“It was really an awful day. I’ve worked there 12 years, grew up in La Cañada, been going to that center since I was 5 years old,” Nordvedt said. “I have a lot of heart for that center and what it does for the community. I feel like after being a part of that organization for 12 years I should have been a part of any shift in direction.”
Nordvedt said that after she returned from three months of maternity leave in November she felt like she was being kept out of the loop, with both the January and February board meetings closed to her.
“It really was just the lack of communication, and I feel like they didn’t respect me enough to get my viewpoint or even to just let me know what they had been thinking of,” she said.
Nordvedt said that she is taking some time to spend with her children while she decides on her next move. She said that while sad to be leaving, she is proud of what she accomplished during her tenure at the post, which she said paid about $60,000 annually.
“I tried to do the job the best way that I knew it, and we really saw some great growth in the center as far as participation in programs. We made the place safer, we made it more appealing for seniors to come,” she said.
Nordvedt said she still hopes for the best for the center. “Whoever they bring in, I hope this new person can make a connection with the community like I feel I did,” she said.
Mayor David Spence said that the health of the center is important to the city.
“The Community Center is a major asset to the residents of the city, that’s why [the city] originally decided to buy the property, so that we could help the board maintain the programs,” he said.
Spence said that going forward, it is important for the center to continue to serve the community with the same quality it has so far.
“From what I understand, the programming has been excellent, the ceramics program has been excellent, preschool program has been excellent,” he said. “I’m just hoping that whoever the board decides to bring and manage the facility and programs, that it continues to grow in the manner it has.”