February 1, 2018; ProPublica
The controversial general counsel of the American Red Cross resigned on Tuesday as the organization scrambled to respond to a ProPublica expose about its handling of allegations of sexual harassment and rape made against senior staffer Gerald Anderson.
David Meltzer, who seems to have been functioning as something of a consigliere, had taken the lead in ushering Anderson out ARC’s door with many accolades for his leadership and dedication—so much so, in fact, that Anderson was quickly hired by Save the Children as their senior director of humanitarian response without their having any knowledge of the allegations. Anderson has now also departed Save the Children.
Those accolades, made both within the organization and for external consumption, were searing for the women who had complained as well as others who had every right to interpret it as a cultural reinforcement of a dangerous environment.
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In his resignation letter, which followed a week of internal tension that included a staff call for his departure as well as for his apology to the two women who made the complaints against Anderson, Meltzer apologized to the CEO:
I deeply regret the damage this language may have caused the organization and its wonderful staff—particularly the employees involved in this matter.…I also deeply regret that my words could have undermined confidence in the commitment of the Red Cross to properly address complaints of this nature. I would never want to be the cause of such a result. Rather, I feel strongly that every employee must feel comfortable and protected in reporting harassment and other misconduct to management.”
We do not know if he also directly apologized to the women who complained.
NPQ readers may remember Meltzer as the man credited with playing interference for the charity with Congress when it attempted to hold the organization to account after media reported on its failures in the field. A 2016 Senate report found that Meltzer was responsible for limiting the scope of a GAO inquiry into the ARC’s Haiti disaster relief operations.—Ruth McCambridge