Anti-DADT group OutServe-SLDN in turmoil as E.D. faces putsch

Bilerico and Buzzfeed reported this morning that Allyson Robinson, the executive director of the “gays in the military” group OutServe-SLDN, has been removed by the organization’s board of directors.

In fact, my sources tell me that Robinson has not been fired, nor has she resigned, but that a movement was brewing to remove her as executive director of the organization when the story went public.

Robinson is the first transgender head of a major national LGBT organization, and has been in that position for less than year.

Allyson-Robinson-sldn

While the details of this story are still somewhat murky, it seems that there was a movement underway by some in the board of directors to remove Robinson for a reason yet unknown, but possibly tied to the resignation of longtime Chief Financial Officer Francisco Ramirez last month.  More on Ramirez’ resignation, below.

Interestingly, Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed has information suggesting that former OutServe-SLDN board member Sue Fulton, who just resigned, was opposed to Robinson’s forced resignation. But an email obtained by AMERICAblog seems to suggest that Fulton was involved in the effort to force Robinson out.

OutServe-SLDN board member Sue Fulton

First, Chris Geidner‘s reporting on Fulton’s role in the move against Robinson:

In an email obtained by BuzzFeed, however, Fulton emailed board co-chair Josh Seefried and board member Katie Miller on Sunday morning, providing some insight into the internal power struggle:

I was a member of the OS-SLDN Board yesterday, and I did NOT vote to ask Allyson to resign. Neither did Shannon. Matthew Phelps and Beth Schissel did not have the opportunity to vote either. Did you even ask for a roll call? On a decision like this?

You cannot characterize this publicly as a “unanimous” vote of the Board. If you do so, Board members will speak publicly to deny that they voted for it. The details of who was in the room and who wasn’t when you rushed this vote through will not support your case.

BuzzFeed also has learned that Fulton had attempted to get the board to hold off on asking for Robinson’s immediate resignation, seeking a two-week delay. The attempt was unsuccessful.

But in an email from Fulton to the SLDN board of directors and its military advisory council, dated yesterday, June 22, 2013, Fulton appears to be one of the board members helping to coordinate the removal of Robinson:

From: Sue Fulton
Date: Sat, Jun 22, 2013
Subject: Re: motion

I propose the establishment of a Committee that we would delegate to meet with Allyson with the following proposal:

“This isn’t working out, we’d like to work together on a transition plan that has you resigning…”

The rest of the email lays out a timetable for her departure and makes clear that should Robinson not accept a peaceful transition, she would be asked to leave immediately.

Fulton adds in the comments to this story, below, the following:

The second email from me was an effort to craft a motion that gave Allyson until July 12, rather than the motion on the floor that wanted her terminated immediately. I would not have wanted the email to get out. It was part of the agonizing process of trying to keep the Board from acting recklessly. I failed.

Perhaps.  But this line from Fulton’s email does not sound entirely like someone opposed to Robinson leaving:

“This isn’t working out, we’d like to work together on a transition plan that has you resigning.”

Perhaps it was a move to save Robinson, giving her troops more time to regroup, or perhaps it was a move to ease her departure by giving her a few weeks rather than terminating her immediately.  That still remains unclear.

Resignation of OutServe-SLDN CFO Francisco Ramirez

Interestingly, one month ago, OutServe-SLDN’s chief financial officer Francisco (Pancho) Ramirez resigned.  Ramirez had been with the organization since 2005.
Francisco-RamirezI hear that Ramirez’ resignation was related to the move against Allyson Robinson.  Robinson reportedly wanted Ramirez gone, and he resigned because of Robinson.  Though it remains unclear whether Robinson had cause to want Ramirez’ removal – maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.

Here is Ramirez’ email of resignation.  Note that Ramirez thanks numerous leaders at OutServe-SLDN, including past executive directors Dixon Osbourne and Aubrey Sarvis, but he does not mention current ED Allyson Robinson:

From: Francisco Ramirez
Date: Tue, May 21, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Subject: Resignation

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation effective today. As the Chief Financial Officer of OutServe-SLDN, it has been a pleasure and privilege to work with all of you over the last 8 years. Above all, I value my small contribution to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as one of the best experiences of my life. I have learned a tremendous amount from each of the SLDN Board and MAC Members, Dixon Osborne, Aubrey Sarvis, and all of my colleagues.

But, the time has come to move on. I have not been involved in nor have I agreed with many of the decisions that have been taken lately, and this is a situation that has become untenable for me.

I still believe that the institution is worthwhile saving, and that it has a role to play in the fight for LGBT equality.

I wish all of you the best.

Sincerely,

Pancho

Gay/trans organizations have a long history of problems between their boards and executive directors.  Just a few weeks ago, the gay head of GLAAD resigned after only one year on the job – and he had replaced another gay ED that was forced out.  Sometimes ED’s are forced out unfairly, and sometimes they’re not.  Clearly there will be more to this story.  Stay tuned.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • JA

    Is “wonder” Internet-speak for “talk out of one’s ass”?

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I REALLY like Allyson. I have no idea, however, what kind of organization leader she is, and I learned ago that good people aren’t necessarily good at managing huge staffs and fundraising. But we need to see and hear more about what really happened here, as others have said.

  • Kathryn F.

    I’m with John here – I feel that Sue’s message has a strong suggestion to it that she was subtly rallying for Allyson. All I know is that this is not a good thing for us.

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    No problem, I’ll add that to the
    post, to clarify – thanks Sue. Just that the way it came across on
    Buzzfeed was that you were opposed to Allyson leaving, it felt that way.

  • Stev84

  • cole3244

    it will take time to figure out the real story here, lets wait and see if more info clears up the confusion or adds to it.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    “Christianist is not Christian” Perhaps, but I meant it in the context, of say: separation of church and state, and wondered if religious beliefs were somehow interfering in fulfilling the job mission. She, is for sure an extraordinary human being. Since the post was vague we would certainly like to know more.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Yeah — so far the story is 100% “what and when” and 0% “why”.

  • emjayay

    Out now, out in three weeks, not that much different in the big picture. The interesting and unaddressed question is: Why? Why now?

    I’ve worked for various people over the years who had their good points and also really really fatal flaws. Here’s hoping the dirt gets out (because I’m a shallow and bad person) and that their good work continues.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Maybe, but that means nothing. Christianist is not Christian any more than Islamist is Muslim. Otherwise we wouldn’t have different words for them. I’ve met her a few times and really liked her. That doesn’t mean she was a good manager, I have no idea, but never got a whiff of anything other than kick-ass from her.

  • Indigo

    Now that you mention it, it does have that Made in New America sound to it, like a line from ‘Nikita.’

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    Here’s what this country has come to: when I read the sentence that included the words “have Ms. Robinson terminated immediately”, the first thing that popped in my head WASN’T that she was being fired…
    :-(

  • Indigo

    I caught a whiff of that flavor too and wondered.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I understood that she continued her education by getting a Masters in Divinity and has served as a pastor in various ministries—particularly in social justice, and wondered if perhaps there was some difficulty arising there.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Christianist? Huh?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I’ve read the post several times and still don’t understand the gist of it. Is Robinson some kind of Christianist causing problems for the organization?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Ms. Fulton, can you enlighten us outsiders as to what’s going on with this OutServe-SLDN shake-up, from your point of view?

    We understand that it will necessarily be a subjective take, but it seems like there’s a whole lot of guessing going on in the public news reports. What was the source of the motion to have Ms. Robinson terminated immediately, and the motivation for it?

    Thank you.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    No problem, I’ll add that to the post, to clarify – thanks Sue. Just that the way it came across on Buzzfeed was that you were opposed to Allyson leaving, it felt that way.

  • Brenda Sue Fulton

    The second email from me was an effort to craft a motion gave Allyson until July 12 rather than the motion on the floor that wanted her terminated immediately. I would not have wanted the email to get out. It was part of the agonizing process of trying to keep the Board from acting recklessly. I failed.

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