• David Patt

    A prospective Executive Director should review financial statements and other materials before accepting the job. A person hired from the inside, in particular, should have access to all kinds of information and should have reviewed it in detail, not just trust that everything was OK. Did that happen in this situation?

  • Em

    Your opinion appears based solely on what you read in a news article that was published in the Portland Tribune on March 8, 2017.

    You have mistakenly chosen the wrong example of what can happen if a new non-profit leader is poorly chosen, and Ms. Shepherd does not deserve criticism.

    Upstream’s situation was due more to the lack of administrative competence and leadership in Ms. Shepherd’s predecessor than to a deficit in the skills and capabilities she herself brought to the Executive Director position.

    The financial picture of Upstream for 2016 and 2017 was misrepresented by Mr. Rader to the Board right up through a meeting on December 8. Ms. Shepherd arrived on the scene shortly before Christmas. The financial picture presented by Mr. Rader showed cash positive. Two weeks into her new role, Ms. Shepherd discovered that the organization was actually in debt and verified this with the bookkeeper Mr. Rader had hired, but ignored.

    Ms. Shepherd quickly initiated negotiations with lenders, funders, and contracted organizations, and staff went to part-time immediately while the Board tried to raise some cash. Unfortunately, there was no runway left to cover deficits before having to lay off staff. It was not until this drastic action was taken that a few outsiders stepped in to support the Board in the hope of keeping the advocacy portion of Upstream’s mission alive.

    Mr. Rader and the Board had publicly stated that Ms. Shepherd was a very competent and excellent fit for the role of Executive Director of Upstream. It is extremely unfortunate that this turn of events took place, but they were not a reflection of Ms. Shepherd.