Curt Hazelbaker, the CEO of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, vowed that the Winston Lake Family Y would have a new executive director to fill the shoes of former ED Shawan Gabriel by the end March.
March has come and gone, and April is headed in the same direction, yet the local Y Association is not even close to finding a leader for its only majority African American branch. A posting for the opening at the branch has not even gone online or in national publications, so when the Association touts members of the Search Committee, we have to ask exactly what is the Committee searching for when seemingly no one knows that there is a job vacancy? Is there a covert search afoot?
Of course the Association’s snail’s pace search is fodder for rumors. Winston Lake (and the Patterson YMCA before it) has always been seen as being short-changed – the Association’s red-headed pickaninny, so to speak. Association leaders say talk of unloading the Winston Lake Y is nonsense, but their lack of respect for Winston Lake Y members and employees is the cause of such speculation.
We can think of no better term than disrespect to describe the Association’s handling of this. If plans for the executive director search changed after Hazelbaker made his declaration, why weren’t members made aware of that before the March deadline? Why leave questions unanswered and give rumors the chance to run amok?
Winston Lake Y members were looking for answers to these questions and others Tuesday during a meeting with Association leaders, but what they got was bureaucratic double-talk from COO Mark Bachman, who was pinch-hitting for Hazelbaker. Bachman talked of strategic plans and of the exploring of options as he tried to piece together an explanation about the delay in hiring an ED. It is the sort of language that is commonplace when politicians and corporate CEOs want to beat-around-the-bush and avoid direct answers – certainly not the kind of talk we expect from a leader of a nonprofit that touts its grassroots and community-connectedness.
The Winston Lake Y family is justifiably angry and frustrated. Being left in the dark and then denied a reason for your exclusion will do that to folks. Compounding their emotions is their belief that none of this would be happening if they were members of the White (its actual name) YMCA over in West End or the new Robinhood Road branch.
YMCA Association leaders, of course, insist that Winston Lake is an important and essential part of its network. They have a very strange way of showing that, however. The Association gets a big red “F” for this one. It must now do the make-up work to bring that score up.