The embattled executive director of the largest “gays in the military” group, OutServe-SLDN, announced last night in an email that she’ll be resigning her post this coming Friday, July 12. And former OutServe-SLDN board member Sue Fulton has weighed in, as well – see the bottom of this story.
We’ve been following this story since the news leaked a few weeks ago that OutServe-SLDN’s board was looking into possibly relieving Robinson of her position as ED of the organization. At the time, no further information was available as to what was causing the schism.
Some suspected that the problem might relate to OutServe-SLDN’s financial situation. The non-profit’s CFO, Francisco Ramirez, had resigned in May via a letter that praised the board of directors, the organization’s past executive directors (by name), but not Robinson. In April, the board’s treasurer Tom Clark resigned. And a month earlier, in March, David Hall, the development director, stepped down.
Others, including a number of OutServe-SLDN chapter heads, suggested that Robinson was fired because she’s transgender, though they offered no explanation for why they raised that possibility.
Then one week later the other shoe dropped. We learned that OutServe-SLDN was in dire financial straits, and that the organization might be closing down its headquarters in Washington, DC as a result.
The news of OutServe-SLDN’s apparent bankruptcy didn’t stop Robinson’s defenders from calling for, and receiving, the head of board co-chair Josh Seefried, who they claimed was behind the move to remove Robinson.
What isn’t entirely clear, among other things, is how Seefried, as only one member of an 18 person board, could pose any threat to Robinson if his motivation was simply anti-trans animus, which Robinson’s defenders were alleging. Nonetheless, Seefried stepped down from the board this past Monday in an effort to smooth the waters.
We now know, via Robinson’s email, below, that she is stepping down from her position as executive director as well. Robinson is currently on the board of directors, via her position as ED, a spot she will presumably lose when she resigns. I’ve heard that there are some rumblings to put Robinson back on the board, which would seem premature as OutServe-SLDN has yet to tell anyone what actually happened. At this point, we have no idea as to the culpability of Robinson, Seefried, or anybody else. Which leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and doesn’t engender much faith in anyone moving forward.
Here’s Robinson’s resignation email announcement:
From Allyson Robinson:
Dear colleagues and friends,
I’m writing today to let you know that I’ll be stepping down from my role as Executive Director as of thisFriday, July 12. I am committed, through our organization’s critical period of transition and beyond, to contributing my strengths in any way I can toward the accomplishment our shared mission of full equality for LGBT service members, veterans, and their families.
I have said from the earliest days of my tenure our best future lies in entrusting this organization, its legacy, and its future to our members – to you. I am unequivocally confident that you can build a future for our cause that is worthy of the great sacrifices you have made and of the legacy of winning leadership you’ve built for the organization and the movement. You are today, and have always been, our future – and that future is bright.
Many of you have also heard me say, again and again, that it is an honor to serve. It has been my highest honor to lead and serve the troops of OutServe-SLDN and their families, and I offer you my deepest, most sincere gratitude for entrusting this honor to me. Your example inspires me, and has inspired a nation, to place service above self for a greater good. I look forward to continuing to serve alongside you in the cause of full equality for LGBT service members, veterans, and their families – and for all those they defend.
Yours in the fight,
UPDATE: Former OutServe-SLDN board member Sue Fulton has weighed in in the comments below this post, and I think her comments and my response are useful to fleshing out this story further:
Sue, your animus towards Seefried is clear, but your logic isn’t. Let’s walk through what you allege:
1. Seefried is supposedly to blame for all of this, but the only proof we have is an email from you calling for the board to get rid of Allyson Robinson because “this isn’t working out.” I appreciate that you now say that you called for Robinson to be forced out as some effort to help her, but the fact remains that the only proof we have of anyone trying to force Robinson out points to you. And I quote:
From: Sue FultonDate: Sat, Jun 22, 2013Subject: 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…”
2. You talk of an inexperienced board. But I thought half the board was SLDN, and half was OutServe, and you only just merged 9 months ago. How was SLDN’s board inexperienced after 20 years of being in existence? And OutServe’s had a board before it merged too, for two+ years. So in fact, all of you were experienced.
But, let’s assume you’re right. If everyone was so inexperienced, how was Seefried so “experienced” that he bamboozled 17 other board members, when Seefried’s only 26 years old or so himself? One would think he’d be the least experienced at that age.
3. And I’m still not understanding how this worked. Two other board members, along with you, were allegedly opposed to Robinson leaving. Seefried supposedly was in favor and running the cabal of one. That’s 3 to his one 1. Those sound like good odds. But we’re to believe that 15 other board members were “scared” into firing Robinson because Seefried wanted more media attention, and somehow a 26 year old kid was able to outmaneuver 17 other people with far more experience in life and politics, especially the SLDN half of the board. That just don’t ring credible.
Nor is it credible that, as you now allege, former and active duty US military personnel were such push-overs that a 26 year old could force them to fire an ED because he’s not getting enough media attention. In fact, from my experience, military personnel are quite the opposite of pushovers.
4. As for your allegation that no one involved had ever alleged that Robinson was fired for being trans, I quote the memo/statement your coalition of chapter heads supporting Robinson sent to the board:
The reputation of OutServe-SLDN has now been irreparably damaged by the lack of communication immediately following the initial leak and the failure to directly address the question – “Was she fired because she is transgender?”
5. Now you’re alleging that the financial disaster happened because of Seefried’s alleged action in trying to get Allyson off the board three weeks ago. So, OutServe-SLDN wasn’t in dire financial straits until the past few weeks after your email calling for the board to oust Robinson went public? That’s your argument – that OutServe-SLDN was financially sound until just 2 weeks ago? Then why did the CFO quit in May, and why did his letter of resignation thank the board, the past EDs, but not Robinson? Why did the board treasurer quit a few months ago? Why did OutServe-SLDN’s development director (aka fundraiser) quit a few months ago? The entire financial leadership quit in the past few months, but we’re to believe that everything was fine on the financial front until two weeks ago? Really?
6. And finally, for someone who simply must have media attention, Seefried has been quiet throughout this entire affair. You however have been everywhere.