OCHS executive director abruptly resigns

Mark Curran leaves position Jan. 1, 2020

Jan. 8, 2020 — The Oregon Coast Humane Society (OCHS) is once again searching for someone to lead its organization. Mark Curran was hired as executive director less than a year ago and, this week, contacted the Siuslaw News to discuss his resignation from that position.

Curran had extensive previous experience working with animal care organizations and he reported that some members of the current board of directors were not supportive of the changes he was interested in initiating.

“When I joined OCHS in January 2019, I was so excited about the potential for the organization to move on from its past mistakes and develop into a thriving animal rescue here in Florence,” he said. “In just a year, we have made so much progress in every area. Membership and membership renewals are up, donations are up a lot, and we have implemented multiple new fundraising programs to help bring much-needed funds into the organization.”

Curran added that the organization has also improved operations dramatically at both the shelter and the thrift store to set the organization up for even more success in 2020. “And, I believe we had turned a corner with our community, who has supported OCHS in ways we had not seen for many years.”

Curran was brought in to lead OCHS in the wake of an inquiry undertaken by the Oregon Attorney General and the Oregon Department of Justice (ODJ), which was prompted by concerns voiced by volunteers at the shelter.

All of the board members that were seated at that time resigned after the results of the inquiry became public through an investigation by the Siuslaw News. The DOJ had found that improper procedures were in place, which related to the selection of board members and the format for public involvement.

Curran’s hire was the result of a nationwide search undertaken at the direction of the DOJ, which recommended OCHS should have an executive director in place to oversee all aspects of the management of the shelter.

On Monday, OCHS Board President Shauna Robbers was contacted but declined to comment regarding Curran’s resignation. However, she did say that in the near future OCHS will be having a strategic planning session to discuss the needs of the organization as it moves forward.

Robbers also mentioned her overall appreciation of the efforts given by Curran but was unable to discuss specific details of the situation that led to his resignation.

The progress made during his brief tenure was considerable, according to Curran, but not always appreciated by board members.

In fact, Curran said he believed actions taken by individuals on the OCHS Board undermined his authority and disregarded his advice on important issues facing the shelter.

“Under my leadership, we completed multiple projects that should have been done many years ago. And we dramatically reduced the monthly financial loss that OCHS operates under. OCHS was on a path to be a financially sound and successful organization in 2020. The board of directors, including the board president and board treasurer, repeatedly acknowledged the improvements delivered during my tenure — including after I submitted my resignation,” Curran said, adding that despite the organization being on a solid path toward success, on multiple occasions over the last two months key members of the board chose to behave unprofessionally and inappropriately.

“I became deeply concerned by what I was witnessing and, recognizing that the situation with the current composition of the board was not likely to change, I realized my position as executive director had become untenable,” said Curran, who submitted his resignation Jan. 1, 2020.

“I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished in 2019 and wish we could have delivered on the many improvements I had planned for 2020,” he said. “I would like to thank the many exceptional community members, volunteers, supporters, donors, adopters, fosterers and staff who stepped up to make our humane society better over the past year. I wish the organization all the very best as it moves forward. The homeless and at-risk animals in our community deserve a wonderful shelter, run by an experienced and qualified executive director, who should be supported by a professional board.”

As of press time Tuesday, the next OCHS public meeting had not been set. For more information, visit oregoncoasthumanesociety.com.