The Winston-Salem Urban League and Keith Grandberry – its president and CEO – are parting ways.
The circumstances regarding his departure are unclear, as both Grandberry and members of the Urban League Board of Directors have been elusive and circumspect.
Grandberry told The Chronicle Saturday that he is resigning from the agency and that he would provide further details on Monday. Numerous efforts to reach him Monday were unsuccessful. After numerous more attempts on Tuesday, Grandberry did contact the paper, but abruptly postponed interviews, citing a medical emergency with a family member.
Urban League Board Chair Evelyn Acree, who also confirmed Saturday that Grandberry would be leaving, declined to provide details. She released a short statement Monday via email.
“Keith Grandberry has verbally announced his resignation from the Winston-Salem Urban League,” Acree wrote. “I am not at liberty to discuss details at this point. I will make a statement at a later date.”
The change in leadership at the agency follows months of rumors that there was acrimony between Grandberry, who was hired in 2006, and several members of the board.
During his tenure, Grandberry had pushed for partnerships between the Urban League – a nationally-acclaimed agency that strives for racial equality through the alleviation of poverty – and businesses and corporations for job training and employment purposes. He had also expanded the agency’s offerings beyond Winston-Salem to the Raleigh/Durham area after the Triangle Urban League branch foundered a few years ago. Grandberry’s efforts and ambition were praised by many, but his management and leadership styles did have detractors.
Urban League Board Member Beaufort Bailey, a former County Commissioner, said he is unaware of any ill-will between Urban League Board members and Grandberry.
“I think he just wanted to go on to other things. He’s got potential and he’s done so much for us. I think he just thought it was time for him to spread his wings a little bit,” Bailey said. “…I think it’s time for him to move on. If he wants to go on to bigger and better things, I don’t think anybody would try to hinder him from that.”
Bailey said he believes Grandberry will have a bright future.
“Keith has been wanted other places, and he just does a tremendous job here in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. A young man like that, you don’t expect to keep him forever,” Bailey declared. “We just appreciate everything that he’s done for the city.”
Other board members weren’t as forthcoming. Longtime members Patrice Toney and Brian Anthony declined to comment, referring all inquires to Acree. Cheavonne Willis, president of the Winston-Salem Urban League’s Young Professionals chapter, also opted not to comment on his leadership or departure, saying the group “isn’t able to make a statement” at this time.
Mayor Allen Joines said he was surprised to hear Grandberry was leaving the agency.
“I’ve certainly enjoyed working with Keith on a number of projects over his tenure,” Joines said. “…I certainly wish him the best in his new endeavors.”
The Winston-Salem Urban League has been operational since the 1950s and is currently one of just two Urban League chapters in the state. Grandberry, whose resume lists a wide-range of non-profit, corporate and political consulting work, was hired after a nationwide search to replace the venerable Delores “D” Wylie, who headed the agency for 16 years before her retirement in December 2005.