The leadership changes at Atlanta homeless LGBT youth organization Lost-n-Found Youth continued for a second day in a row Tuesday as Clayton Skinner has informed the board of directors of his resignation. Skinner had served as chief operating officer for the last eight months before being named director of operations just yesterday, but he tells Georgia Voice that he did not formally accept that new role. Now Skinner’s out, there’s a void in the newly named director of operations position, and many in Atlanta’s LGBT community are still outraged by the removal of Rick Westbrook as executive director.
Skinner, managing partner at Vantage Point South – The Skinner Law Firm LLC, notified Lost-n-Found Youth’s board of directors of his resignation via email Tuesday afternoon.
“The issues surrounding homeless youth in Georgia and the Southeast, and in particular the incredible struggle of LGBTQ young people in our community, can and should be the focus of our attention,” he wrote. “Recent events compounded with ongoing issues, many of which the community are not be fully aware, have led me to believe that my personal efforts can be better spent towards this endeavor in other ways, outside my current role with Lost-n-Found. It is with this in mind, that I respectfully offer my resignation as Chief Operating Officer to the Board of Lost-n-Found Youth, Inc.”
Skinner responded via email to follow-up questions from Georgia Voice regarding whether he ever accepted the new position and if he had any opinion on whether Westbrook should be reinstated as executive director.
“The formal reorganization did not go into effect as far as I am aware, so I did not accept the new role,” he said. “Regarding Rick’s Westbrook’s role with the organization, I leave that for the future board to decide.”
Lost-n-Found Youth’s board of directors was not immediately available to comment on Skinner’s resignation.
Rumors swirled throughout the day Monday about Rick Westbrook, Lost-n-Found Youth’s co-founder and public face since its founding in November 2011, being removed as executive director. The board of directors confirmed the move in a statement released Monday night, saying they were demoting Westbrook to director of outreach, naming Skinner director of operations and naming Brittany Garner director of programs. Westbrook’s supporters have arranged to show up at the organization’s board meeting on Friday night to call for the group to reinstate him as executive director.
Here is the email Skinner sent to Lost-n-Found Youth’s board of directors Tuesday afternoon notifying them of his resignation:
To the LNFY Board & Community,
I would like to start by saying a heartfelt “Thank You” to the many people who have worked tirelessly to help do the work and carry out the mission of Lost-n-Found Youth day-in and day-out, often with little of the recognition they so deserve. These countless staff and volunteers have carried forward the mission of helping LGBTQ youth, and it is the passion with which they apply themselves towards that goal with no thought or pursuit of personal glorification that gives me great pride in the hard work that has been done.
My own work with Lost-n-Found pales in comparison to what so many others have done. I began this journey with LNFY because growing up I saw
people from my small home town in rural Georgia go through the trauma and heartbreak of losing their families and financial stability when they came out as gay. I’m fortunate to have a family that choose to love and support me, and felt it my duty to offer help in any way I could for those who did not have that support. I suspect many who have lent their time, energy and money to Lost-n-Found have similar stories.
Having provided pro-bono legal services to the organization in the past and more recently serving as COO for the last eight months, I have seen first
hand both the growth of the need, and many of the trials and tribulations that the organization has undergone. I am proud of the work being done in the trenches and with the youth directly, and believe the organization has brought in more qualified people than ever in the last eight months to help make a difference in the community and lives of the young people it serves. These changes have not all been easy; and as with any change, they come with some growing pains.
The issues surrounding homeless youth in Georgia and the Southeast, and in particular the incredible struggle of LGBTQ young people in our community, can and should be the focus of our attention. Recent events compounded with ongoing issues, many of which the community are not be fully aware, have led me to believe that my personal efforts can be better spent towards this endeavor in other ways, outside my current role with Lost-n-Found. It is with this in mind, that I respectfully offer my resignation as Chief Operating Officer to the Board of Lost-n-Found Youth, Inc.
Clayton Skinner, Esq.