|2/21/2013 10:35:00 AM|
MEND parts ways with Brian Thompson Royer
After three years on the job as the executive director of Upper Valley MEND, Brian Thompson Royer is out. The MEND Board of Directors decided last week to replace Thompson Royer with board member Chuck Reppas.
Board President John Agnew said the board conducts an annual review of MEND and its leadership. He calls it a pretty thorough process.
"It involves collecting a lot of information and data. It involves looking at our challenges going forward," Agnew said. "The culmination of that was a unanimous decision of the board to move in a different direction with regard to our leadership to accomplish what we needed to accomplish in the next year."
This was not a snap decision. Agnew said their annual review process began in December. It is extensive and detailed with feedback from the community. The process has been working for a long time, however once a decision has been made, Agnew said it is only fair to the organization and to Brian that they discuss it with him quickly and directly.
"That's the fair thing to do, we think, in these sorts of situations. In particular, because we view this as being the most positive thing we can do for Upper Valley MEND going forward," he said. "It was not a snap decision. It took a lot of time, a lot of discernment, a lot of conversation. In the end, it was a unanimous decision of the board."
On Feb. 11, Thompson Royer made a presentation to the Leavenworth City Council regarding the recently submitted CDBG grant application to the state. It certainly did not appear by his actions or comments that he would be leaving MEND.
It is fairly obvious this decision took him by surprise as well. Thompson Royer came on board three years ago from a similar position in Spokane. To the outside observer, he appeared to be doing a pretty solid job. Due to employee confidentiality, Agnew was limited in what he could say about the dismissal.
"I think most people understand. The nature of these conversations and the data involved, the inputs and that sort of thing," Agnew said. "It's not really responsible for us as a board to talk about outside the board. Our genuine feeling is that this is the right thing for the organization and the right thing overall."
Reppas, a developer and CPA by trade, has been on the MEND Board for two and half years as the treasurer. Agnew said he is principally responsible for putting together financial structures and budgeting discipline. He's been with the board through every step of the Meadowlark project.
"He's the only one on our board, on our entire staff, with experience putting together residential development of this scale and ever larger. He's a known quantity," he said. "He's deeply involved in his church in the community. He's on the Leavenworth Planning Commission. And he was willing to take on this role. We feel very fortunate, given how big and risky the Meadowlark project is, to have someone of Chuck's caliber to help us through that."
Agnew said everyone knows him, so that was a plus, including the Leavenworth City Council and key partners with Meadowlark. No time is being wasted filling Reppas's seat on the board. Osborn Elementary Principal Kenny Renner Singer is being considered to replace him.
As the evaluation process has moved along, Reppas believed they would figure out how to make things work and shore up on some of Thompson-Royer's weaker points. But when it came to this go round, he said it became obvious a change needed to be made.
"It's hard for me to be excited about the position. I'm a little heartbroken over Brian, and I need to get over that. It's sort of a grieving process," Reppas said. "I'm very excited about the opportunity. I love the Meadowlark project. I love the MEND organization. The staff is incredible. I think I can help a lot in the development area."
Reppas said he was cruising along doing consulting work and doing just fine. He was enjoying volunteering on the MEND Board. It has only been in the last 45 days that he ever thought of being the executive director.
He will be the full time executive director, and is now working to shut down his client list. Reppas has also agreed to come to work on a one year contract.
"I agree with the concept of a one year contract, in essence as an interim, so the community, the organization itself and everybody around can make sure it is a fit. That is comfortable," he said. "I'm glad to go through the process. I don't want to be where I am not wanted. But if I am wanted, then maybe it does become permanent."
The last time MEND hired an executive director, the process was quite open. Community members, staff and pastors were involved. This time was different. Agnew said they did not have the time to run that open, collaborative process.
Therefore, key folks, the owners of MEND, did not have a chance to participate, Agnew said.
"The one year contract gives us the flexibility. We need your help to make sure it is the right thing to do permanently. Chuck was the one to say, this needs to be interim to begin with," Agnew said.
Reppas is former land owner at Meadowlark. But he sold out to his partner Rudy Prey in 2008. He feels, because of his experience, he can hit the ground running at MEND.
"I'm glad to create this affordable housing to be able to shore up the numbers going into our school district and have homes for people that work in the community," Reppas said.
While development is his forte, Reppas said he will have to get up to speed with the other MEND ministries, Community Cupboard, Cornerstone House, Jubilee, Upper Valley Free Clinic and SHARE Community Land Trust.
"It is a much more high level touch-base with our program managers, who are fully capable to run their own programs. I'll just make sure they have the platform they need to run the program well," he said.
Thompson Royer's wife Sandy has been running Jubilee. Agnew said they would like her to stay on, if she is willing. Currently, she is in Nepal.
"It's our hope people can understand these things happen. Sometimes there's just a misfit. It's hard but good to say, when there is a disjoint, it's better to own up to it and figure out how to move forward in a positive way than to live with it because it is too tough to make a call," Agnew said.
That said, Agnew said they really appreciate everything Thompson Royer has done for MEND.
"He's made some great contributions in the organization in the three years he has been here. We wish him nothing but the best," he said.
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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