LORAIN — After a decade marked by corruption and dysfunction, Lorain County Community Action Agency board members are looking to an insider for greater accountability and stability.
The board Wednesday approved hiring interim CEO and President Jackie Boehnlein as chief executive officer and president on Oct. 1, contingent on a contract agreement. Boehnlein, who earns $85,000 annually, has run the agency since January.
She was hired in 2007 as director of strategic and organizational development. Boehnlein also served as chief of staff and chief operating officer of the agency, which has a budget of about $12.6 million and approximately 150 employees. The agency provides education, heating and housing assistance to poor people.
Board chairman Ron Nabakowski, who said the organization must “become a big family again instead of a warring agency,” said Boehnlein could hit the ground running in a way that an outside candidate couldn’t.
“Right now she’s a great manager,” he said. “Before the year’s out, she’ll be a pretty damn good leader, too.”
Nabakowski said board members only offered a one-year contract to Boehnlein in deference to board member Jeanine Donaldson, who voted against appointing Boehnlein, contending she was unqualified and that the search process was flawed.
Nabakowski, and board members the Rev. Calvin Currie, Rhoda Lee, Henry Patterson, Vassie Scott, Mike Szekely, Andres Torres and Nancy Warzecha voted for Boehnlein.
Donaldson said she was blindsided by Nabakowski, who said the CEO selection committee had been underwhelmed by the outside candidates.
“The long-term repercussions of this action will outlast the short-term inconvenience of beginning a new search,” Donaldson said, reading from a letter to Nabakowski. “Our agency, clients and stakeholders deserve more from us.”
Boehnlein replaced interim CEO William Locke in January. Locke succeeded CEO Robert Gilchrist, who was fired in October after less than three months on the job. Gilchrist faces illegal voting charges and was briefly accused of domestic violence. His accuser recanted and no charges were filed.
Since Boehnlein took over, an Ohio Department of Development audit found accusations in an anonymous letter of abuse and fraud to be unfounded. A stricter policy involving employee uses of agency cars was approved after a now-fired worker was charged with unauthorized use of license plates and costly union grievances have decreased.
“I’m not saying that relations are magically better,” Boehnlein told board members. “I’m just saying that we are actively working with the union to operate within the terms of the contract.”
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or email@example.com.