ROBYN H. JIMENEZ | 8/3/2015, 12:13 p.m.
The Dallas Examiner
On the verge of a possible scandal, the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Central Texas has denied for several months any and all allegations that its chapter was in jeopardy of closing or being disaffiliated from the national office. Despite several opportunities to be forthcoming about their status and explain the issues they have been facing, the group has adamantly denied that the departure of former chapter president, Dr. Beverly Mitchell-Brooks, was a sign of potential troubles. Brooks had led the group for around 24 years.
However, on July 23, the National Urban League board of trustees sent out a notice that the Dallas chapter was to be immediately disaffiliated after its July 15 meeting. The national office completely severed all ties from the local chapter due to “serious concerns about the fiscal management and organizational governance of the chapter.”
As a result, the chapter may no longer use the Urban League name or the logo as part of its organization. This includes the ULGD Guild and ULGD Young Professionals.
Terry Woods, who became the ULGD chairman in March, said that he was “alarmed, angry and insulted” that the national office would close Dallas’ 48-year-old institution.
However, he did admit that there were serious financial and accounting issues uncovered last year. He stated that there was a discovery of financial improprieties, misappropriation of funds and missing funds that are still being investigated – along with other underlying issues that he was not ready to discuss publicly yet – and the group may ask law enforcement for assistance. A recent report indicated that the ULGD board has received the results of its forensic audit.
“Here are the facts,” he demanded. “Our organization uncovered what the National Urban League should have discovered years ago. When we reported the financial issues to New York, they began the ‘blame game’ and attempted to dodge their complicity in the serious issues here. We did a lot more than point fingers; we changed the leadership earlier this year including the CEO and the CFO, and we replaced board members as well as numerous staff.”
Last month, the local chapter announced its “new and restructured” chapter, along with 11 new board members: Peter Aguirre, Judge Thomas Jones, Gwendolyn Daniels, Mavis Lloyd, Dr. Ronald Jones, Baltazaar Cruz, Don Babers, Marvin Earle, Martin Burrell, Larry Wilson and Lonnie Woods. Each member has at least 20 years of service to the community listed on their resume. Some have 30-plus years. Yet, each member could offer a different set of skills and experiences. It also announced Vickie McDaniel as its new chief financial officer, who also comes with 20 years of experience and service in her field.
The ULGD chairman stated that the chapter had requested assistance from the national office to restructure the local organization, but had to do so on its own.
He called the disaffiliation “irresponsible, disrespectful and a violation of its own rules.” He claimed that the NUL board didn’t have a hearing on the issues or a review of the critical changes that were taking place.
“This group is supposed to be about empowerment and rights. They don’t follow their own rules and then send us notification about this decision via email,” Terry insisted. “Our founders must be shuddering in their graves.”
A former ULGD worker, who chose to remain anonymous, stated that the ULGD received a letter months ago, which included a warning that the ULGD was not in compliance with the NUL code of standards and steps that needed to be followed in order to preserve the local institution. However, the group continuously denied that a letter existed and that the local chapter could be in serious trouble.
Moreover, the national office stated that there was a plan set up, but it wasn’t followed. It indicated that headquarters sent ULGD a letter on June 19 with a corrective plan of action; another letter on July 3, informing the chapter that it was being placed on probation pending corrective action to be completed by July 13; and another letter on July 13 notifying the chapter that the NUL Affiliation Services Committee would receive a recommendation to dissolve the chapter’s affiliation due to failure to provide required documentation.
“We have tried for months to work with the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Central Texas to bring them into compliance with the Terms of Affiliation, but the affiliate has failed to comply with the corrective action plan we provided,” said Marc H. Morial, NUL president and CEO.
Furthermore, the national office suspended all sub-grants to the local chapter earlier this year after it “failed to meet programmatic, management and administrative requirements.”
Founded in 1967 with a mission to provide the critical skills and resources necessary to enable all citizens to secure economic self-reliance, the ULGD offers assistance with health, employment and housing needs, as well as training in technology, STEM workshops for youth, GED classes and other educational services for youth and adults. Its veterans program offers numerous support services, including temporary financial assistance and case management services to veterans and their families. It also hosts workshops and job/health fairs, and holds community events – including a homebuyer’s workshop scheduled for Aug. 8. According to its reports, the chapter serves thousands of Dallas/Fort Worth residents each year.
“This move, which frankly seems like a power grab, is an insult to all of Dallas and it could be extraordinarily harmful to the people we serve,” the ULGD chairman declared. “Why would national choose this arbitrary and injurious course of action when they should be focused on the dangerous rhetoric of someone like Donald Trump or the painful and serious issues raised by Sandra Bland’s death or the follow up needed after the shootings in South Carolina? Why?”
He insisted that the group is now on the right path and stated that it would “forcefully challenge” the disaffiliation. The local chapter was given 10 days to file an appeal and must do so by Monday. Unless the decision is reversed, the group must notify all funding sources and creditors of its status.