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|United Way releases funding back to YouthPride after investigation|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 00:00|
The United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta has lifted its hold on donations designated for YouthPride after conducting an investigation into the LGBT youth nonprofit spurred by donor complaints and finding no wrongdoing.
“After looking into the complaints against YouthPride by our generous donors, United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta has decided to lift the hold on designated donor funds to the organization. We have alerted YouthPride and our donors of our decision,” United Way spokesperson David Graves said April 30 in a prepared statement.
Graves said April 13 that United Way had opened an investigation into YouthPride after receiving complaints from donors who made donations to YouthPride through United Way.
Graves declined to say how much money or how many donors were impacted and instead said all inquiries should be made to YouthPride.
Numerous emails to YouthPride’s Executive Director Terence McPhaul and board members have gone unanswered.
The GA Voice was able to reach YouthPride’s interim board chair Theresa Willis by phone on May 3, but she refused to comment about the organization.
“I do not talk and drive,” she said. “How did you get this number? This number is my husband’s number and we try to keep it private.
“My husband is a state representative. I will get advice from my husband who is a state representative and a lawyer,” she added when asked to comment about YouthPride.
Willis did not state her husband’s name. A spokesperson from the Georgia House of Representatives could not identify the legislator.
YouthPride must vacate its space in Inman Park on May 31 but no one from the organization will discuss if it has found a new home. YouthPride was ordered to vacate its site at 1017 Edgewood Ave. by 5 p.m. May 31 after it reached a court settlement with its landlord, Inman Park United Methodist Church, for not paying more than $50,000 in rent and fees. YouthPride agreed as part of the settlement to pay the church $28,000.
At a March 6 town hall forum to discuss YouthPride, McPhaul said he was working with Atlanta attorney Jason McCoy of the Paul Hastings law firm and expected to have a new board organized in 60 days.
McCoy said May 8 he could not comment on the board’s development.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve been asked not to comment by my client,” he said.
Jordan Myers, who was the board chair of YouthPride before Willis took over the position, has not spoke on the YouthPride crisis since February despite numerous attempts to contact him, but apparently remains on the board. Willis was listed as interim board chair in court documents filed in March as part of YouthPride’s settlement agreement with Inman Park UMC; Myers was also listed in the documents as a board member.
YouthPride’s by-laws state its board must have five board members. Tracee McDaniel, founder of Juxtaposed Center for Transformation, confirmed May 8 she has joined the board.
Former board member and attorney Marlys Bergstrom said the blame for YouthPride’s financial woes lies with the board and not McPhaul. Bergstrom is an attorney with Atlanta’s Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan LLP law firm.
She told the GA Voice in January she had no idea McPhaul had said the board needed to raise $40,000 by Dec. 31 or it would be forced to close, although the agency remains open today. She also said at the time the board had not met in two years.
Bergstrom said in a phone interview May 4 she came on the board just after McPhaul was hired and Myers was the board chair. McPhaul was hired in 2009.
“With Jordan (Myers) we never had a meeting and the few we did Terence (McPhaul) seemed to have his act together, just waiting for funds to come in,” Bergstrom said.
Bergstrom defended McPhaul and said he should not be the one blamed for any of YouthPride’s financial troubles.
“It was largely the board’s fault,” Bergstrom said. “I was astounded. I never had the feeling [McPhaul] was not committed or that he wanted to go rogue.”
Bergstrom said she decided that she had been removed from the board because she had no contact with members for so long.
“I was transitioning jobs and assumed I would be told when they met. I knew YouthPride was having financial difficulties … but not much guidance was given to Terence,” she added. “He’s been given a really bad rap.”
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