Charlotte Cagle, board chair of Atlanta LGBT homeless youth organization Lost-n-Found Youth, has resigned in the wake of a controversial leadership change and subsequent mass defections from both the executive staff and board of directors of the organization.

Cagle resigned less than 24 hours after the board’s announcement that they were removing co-founder Rick Westbrook as executive director, demoting him to director of outreach, and appointing attorney Clayton Skinner as director of operations and social worker Brittany Garner as director of programs. Community backlash ensued courtesy of Westbrook’s supporters, many of whom called for Cagle to resign. Skinner subsequently resigned from the organization early Tuesday afternoon, telling Georgia Voice that he never formally accepted the new position. Four board members—Chris Burgess, Michelle Groover, Ed Smith-Lewis and J. Harry Shannon—resigned in the wake of the Westbrook removal, culminating in Cagle’s resignation today.

Lost-n-Found Youth's Rick Westbrook was removed as executive director. (File photo)

Lost-n-Found Youth’s Rick Westbrook was removed as executive director. (File photo)

“Charlotte Cagle has tendered her resignation as Chair of The Board of Directors of Lost n Found Youth Inc. We extend our thanks to her for her work on behalf of the mission of Lost n Found Youth during her tenure with us,” read a statement issued to the Georgia Voice late Tuesday afternoon. “Like all nonprofit organizations, Lost n Found Youth has been experiencing ‘growing pains’ as part of the normal life cycle of similar organizations. We will be moving forward in our goals to provide the highest level of services possible to the homeless youth in our area, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, and are some of the most vulnerable of the homeless population in our city. The board will be meeting on Friday, August 26, 2016, to fill vacant officer positions and announce staffing plans for the immediate future. In the interim, Rick Westbrook will assume the responsibilities of the director of operations until those future staffing plans are announced.”

Keith Hollingsworth, Lost-n-Found Youth board member and a professor at Morehouse College, confirmed to the Georgia Voice that he, Liliana Bakhtiari, David Little, Marci Alt, Maureen Kalmanson, Bruce Garner and Dr. Jesse Peel are the remaining members of the organization’s board, which is all-volunteer.

All appeared to be well with Lost-n-Found Youth on Monday morning, with permits for a new shelter finally in hand and a $1.1 million capital campaign underway. Then word started spreading on social media that afternoon that Westbrook was being ousted as executive director. A little after 8 p.m. that night, the board of directors issued a statement confirming Westbrook’s demotion and the new appointments on the executive staff—the decision had apparently been made and agreed upon by the board the previous Thursday night.

A slew of resignations followed, including four board members. Then Skinner announced his resignation from the organization, telling Georgia Voice he never formally accepted the new title announced in the previous night’s press release. Cagle subsequently issued her resignation Tuesday afternoon.

So all eyes are on Friday’s board meeting, where the remaining members will decide whether to reinstate Westbrook as executive director and elect new officers for the board.

One Response

  1. M A Martin

    I find it ironic that everyone stops and drops for everything when you call it Black whatever but if anything was the dared called white anything why those people would be considered sheet wearing klans men. I guarantee you that white people were really not all that welcome this weekend for Black Gay Pride. I personally know that from trying to go to a couple of events last year it was immediately made very well known that we were not welcome. How? Pick up pretty fast on something like that when you’re being called Cracker Whitey and other hate speech slurs all stated by black people th the functions Somebody explain to me what makes that right. I also personally witnessed more times I want to count just how racist the black community in the city of Atlanta has become. In fact their feelings toward white is disgusting. In the past year alone I have personally witnessed the literal absolute worst the black community can exhibit. Some of these people will do everything possible to insert themselves in everything possible into Gay Pride week. This is a problem that is systemic in Atlanta far too often we have to have black this and black back by then the black community comes in and forces themselves into the traditional celebration. The organizers of a traditional event have little if any choice other than to allow those from the black community to have their way for failure for us doing so would probably result in protest marches being held on Peachtree Street and led by the disreputable and very unhonorable John Lewis.

    See recently Atlanta Westchester given a new title we are known as the second most discriminatory City and the country also second most segregated city in the country. Instead of doing more to bring together everyone as one people. we spend far too much time doing everything we can to pull everybody apart that’s not what Dr King’s Dream stated. His dream called for Jews and Gentiles black man and white man rich man and poor man to come together as one people. Well I’m here to tell you dr. King message has been completely forgotten completely unheeded and practically dead. Instead of having black gay why don’t we have GAY PRIDE???????? We simply must get away from all this separation this is what’s giving people like Donald Trump can have the strength of the United States president. Keep in mind his running mate Advocates the killing of gay people if they if they refuse to go to conversion therapy. Had we been acting as one people with a common purpose racist like Donald Trump and bigots like Mike Pense would never have been able to get as far as they have. God help us all if by some ridiculous chance get elected believe me gay people ALL gay people will be in immediate very real danger. Before that happens and God I hope it never does we need to come together as one community be they black or white or yellow or brown or poor or rich young or old we simply must come together as one. Gay communities have already seen the proof of what happens when we become one. All one has to look at is the time it has taken from The Stonewall riots to today gay people can legally marry each other. This complete 180 degrees turn only happened because of the work of all people in the gay community. Today is she this challenge to the black community don’t have a separate weekend that only black people can go to come be a part of the main Pride celebration where everyone is welcome. When we come together as one there is nothing we cannot overcome.

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