Moving Onward and Forward

As I hinted in my earlier post, my time with Youth First Texas is coming to a close. While there has been a great deal of joy being a member of this organization, the internal struggles with personalities, and egos has made my ability to remain on the board all that more difficult. Today I submitted my resignation  (joining two other board members who have resigned stating similar frustrations).

To YFT Board of Directors:

It is with regret that I formally resign from the board of directors of Youth First Texas effective 7PM on Monday, January 9, 2012. While this decision may come to some on the board as a sense of relief and joy, it is written with a great deal of concern and sadness, mixed with a high level of frustration.

Since joining the board, I have worked to ensure that the board has acted in good faith and fulfilled its legal obligations to our community, our donors and our youth (primarily through my role as Governance Committee Chair and member). While the board has had some lively discussions, and made some hard decisions, the board – for the most past – has acted professionally and respectfully, and met those obligations. It is only in the last six or so months that I have seen the board disintegrate as factions have formed, and discussions (and some decisions) have been based on alliances to individuals and not always in the best interests of the organization.

The most evident of these was in the handling of my concerns expressed about both co-chairs, TJ Wilson and Chris-James Cognetta, and my board complaint against both for misleading the board, misrepresenting the use of organizational funds to the board in relation to the Black Tie Dinner (as was the case with the documented issue against TJ), among other issues. The intent behind the complaint was to remind the board of its role to maintain a check and balance on all of its directors and its officers, and it saddens me that the majority of the board has ignored repeated requests to address these serious and substantiated concerns. Instead, the (now) majority of the board is focusing on seeking revenge and retaliation against members of the board with whom they disagree, and who have raised concerns in an effort to protect the organization’s integrity and status within the community. This is not a board acting judiciously to protect our organization, but a board acting out of spite.

It is the knowledge that the majority of the board has decided to act in this manner that has contributed to my (and others) level of frustration and my decision to tender my resignation. It is the fact that a large part of the board is now aligned to 1 or 2 individuals, and makes decisions based on that loyalty, rather than to the organization itself, that makes it impossible for me to be effective and remain on the board. All efforts to reach out to work with these individuals have been futile given that it appears the goal of the alliance on the board has been to simply remove those members that don’t play by their rules, or don’t agree with them. This has become most evident in the past 2 months amongst many board members. It is worth noting that I have attempted multiple times to meet with or talk with board members on the rare occasions when issues have arisen; no other board member has ever reached out to discuss their concerns directly with me.

While I do not doubt that with my resignation the complaint against the co-chairs will fail to appear before the board again, it is my hope that some of you on the board will see that continuing the lack of accountability expected of our co-chairs could lead to further misrepresentations and possibly jeopardize the organization more than they have to date. It is up to you all to ensure that the board does its best to always protect the organization’s interests above those of any one individual. That is the basic duty that each director has.

The organization appears to be once again heading into a downward spiral, and rather than working together to protect our organization (including honoring our own mission, vision and values), some have chosen to work to fuel the negativity and encourage board members to ignore a commitment to dignity and respect (both of the person and the diversity of thought) that each board member should have.

While I am sad to tend my resignation, I am proud of the work that I have done during my first term on the board, including successfully adding a youth representative on the board (thereby providing an active voice for our main stakeholders); leading the changes to the organizational mission, vision and values that better reflect the organization that Youth First Texas had grown into over the past ten years (as part of the strategic review for the organization); enhancing the effectiveness of our meetings through modified meeting procedures; streamlining the communication and document management for the board and the organization through the transition to Google Apps; and working to change the strategic direction of the organization to better provide services and programs for our youth. These are my legacy, and each one supports and confirms my commitment to my belief that Youth First Texas is, and should always be, the strongest organization of its kind in the North Texas region, and the state. WE owe it to the youth that we serve.

I hope that the organization will remain strong for the youth that need YFT and the safe space that we provide. It is in your hands.

James Nunn

I genuinely hope that the organization will move on and become stronger, but it will take a change in the current personalities on the board to make that happen. I am doing my part to make that a reality.