Major changes continue at the nonprofit organization that launched the successful campaign to increase the Las Cruces minimum wage. The entire board of NM Communities in Action and Faith (CAFé) resigned Tuesday. As KRWG first reported last week, the NM CAFé Director resigned for a new position later this year with PICO, a national organization involved with CAFé and other groups across the United States.
A new board, as yet unnamed, has been chosen. Sara Melton, Community Organizer at NM CAFé, issued the following statement:
“After months of staff, clergy, and community members' requests to meet with the former board went unanswered, the former board's resignation came as a relief to staff and community members. CAFe leaders and clergy met last month to nominate additional board members who as of today are serving as CAFe's new board of directors. The new board members were voted on by CAFe community leaders, represent the communities CAFe serves, and have a strong understanding of our mission. We are confident that together the newly appointed board, staff, clergy, and leaders will continue to serve southern New Mexico with the same commitment to the most vulnerable. CAFe is fiscally strong, has strong community partnerships, and are engaging hundreds of people a month. We look forward to continuing our work in southern New Mexico.”
After resigning, the former board of NM CAFé made the following statement to KRWG News:
“The board is charged with providing oversight of the organization and in an attempt to fulfill their obligation, the board conducted a preliminary review of NM CAFé structure, policies and procedures. They sought professional consultation from local experts. Based on the guidance offered by a non-profit consultant, Human Resource specialist, a Certified Public Accountant and an employment attorney the board endeavored to adopt best practices in the areas of business and organizational management. ‘We were exercising our due diligence as board members by addressing the internal and external concerns, keeping the local community at the center,’ said Jorge Rodriguez, former Vice President.
In addition to examining their business practices, serving the community and adhering to the mission of NM CAFé, it was the board’s goal to continue to develop deep relationships with the local community and increase the saliency of grassroots organizing. ‘We wanted to make sure we were listening to our community about their needs and support the work that was important to them, like the roads in Vado,’ Brenda LeBaron, former NM CAFé Treasurer. Because of the work that NM CAFé does by asking community members to exercise vulnerability, the board was acutely aware of the need to maintain utmost integrity.
However, their decisions and efforts were met with resistance and ultimately proved unfruitful for NM CAFé. ‘We recognized that the process we were undertaking was not working. We received multiple notes of concern and confusion about the changes we were implementing, and realized that we were not going to be able to achieve the desired outcomes.’ K. Naoma Staley, former NM CAFé Secretary.
In consideration of the board’s legal and ethical obligation to the organization and the community and having received community pressure to resign, the board believed it was in the best interest of the organization to resign their membership on the board of NM CAFé. ‘We gave this decision considerable thought but we made the decision to resign because we did not think it was proper to carry on without significant changes,’ said Daisy Maldonado, former NM CAFé President.
It is the hope of the now former board that this decision not only preserves funding and staff positions but also ensures that NM CAFé can continue to organize in Southern New Mexico.
Board members Daisy Maldonado, Jorge Rodriguez, Brenda LeBaron, and K. Naoma Staley resigned their positions effective Sept. 12, 2017.”
In her resignation letter sent to KRWG News last week, former NM CAFé director Sarah Silva addressed difficulties dealing with the board:
“I had planned to announce my transition to PICO staff and work on succession at CAFé when I returned from my sabbatical in June. Although the current board of directors for CAFé has known for some time that I am leaving CAFé, it has not announced a transition plan or an interim director. I understand that the board has restricted the ability of leaders and clergy to use funds to organize and has inhibited the staff’s ability to do their day-to-day work. They have also declined to meet with leaders and staff for nearly two months.”
The issue of community organizing is once again in the spotlight in New Mexico, as Albuquerque voters get ready for an October election that includes a vote on a mandatory sick leave law, a provision currently not available in Las Cruces.