UW’s CEO: I did not resign — I was terminated

It has been an honor to serve our community for the past 35 years including the past 24 years with the local United Way making a real impact in our neighbor’s lives.

Kathleen Mommé

Every moment of these years, I have felt that it has been a true blessing to serve, continuously break performance records, always give my staff and volunteers credit, created a work culture that was caring and family friendly and received numerous state and local leadership awards.

My priority is, as it always has been, United Way donors, partner agencies and the many helped by them and I remain committed to serving the many people served on the Lower Eastern Shore as I have since 1983.

I did not resign from United Way. I was abruptly terminated by the United Way’s legal counsel on behalf of Board of Directors leadership, with no real opportunity to advocate for myself or to speak with any Board members.

It has been a painfully heartbreaking end to my successful career with United Way.

Following 24 years of dedication to the organization, I was terminated based on concerns that members of the staff expressed, not to me, but to certain members of the Board, mainly in regard to my management approach and style.

I have always brought a certain (appropriate) intensity to my work and my desire to grow and expand the United Way, its donor base, and its impact in the community. This intensity has always made me demanding mostly of myself, but also of my staff, as we have strived over the years to fulfill challenging goals and meet ever-increasing and critical community needs.

While I fully recognize this about myself, I do not apologize for it.

And I do not regard that (appropriate) intensity, or the fact that it may have made certain staff members uncomfortable or resulted in a work environment they disliked, as a valid reason to summarily terminate me under circumstances, poorly managed by Board leadership, and incorrectly suggested to the public that something more sinister had occurred.

Staff members whom I hired and trained and mentored had complaints, mainly in regard to my management approach and style, which unfortunately were never conveyed to me by them; and were not conveyed by the Board as part of any review or evaluation of my performance; but instead, were enumerated as accusations shortly before I was informed by the current Board leadership, through their legal counsel, of my termination effective July 31.

I am, of course, considerably older than most of the staff, having a generational gap to bridge and perhaps bringing more traditional notions of hard work and accountability to the “team” and “family” atmosphere that I worked so hard, for so many years, to cultivate at the organization I loved so much.

More traditional notions of hard work and accountability, perhaps, were inconsistent with the expectations and work-related objectives of a newer generation of employees, and (apparently) the Board leadership that ultimately advocated for and orchestrated my firing.

I have always cared deeply about my staff, and have always strived to be a loyal and responsible personnel manager. This I can say without equivocation.

I have always communicated with staff openly and honestly, and constructively. I have also always treated the United Way Board members with utmost respect and appreciation for their valued contributions of time, energy and expertise.

The Board offered me a considerable amount of donor funds in exchange for my silence and to waive any legal claims I might have.

A lengthy and non-negotiable written agreement titled “General Release and Covenant Not to Sue” was presented to me in this regard.

Although (due to financial concerns) I initially considered accepting a severance payment in connection with my termination, after further thought, I decided that I will not sign the proposed agreement (despite the serious financial strain this sudden firing creates for me and my family), and will not accept a payoff, especially one using donor funds.

So, my heart is literally broken over the manner in which I have been cast aside with little or no regard, after so many years of dedicated and fruitful service.

Thanks to my faith, my family and close friends, I will move forward with the same passionate energy that I have always carried into my work, as I look for new ways to serve the community I love and cherish so much.

For as Proverbs 3: 5-6 states “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your path.”

Kathleen Mommé served as CEO of the local United Way for nearly 25 years. The Salisbury-based group has long been considered one of the best United Ways in the nation, raising more than $2 million each year for community programs in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Dorchester counties.

 

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