Feb. 19, 2020 — The Oregon Coast Humane Society (OCHS) continues to experience management related issues as the shelter has lost both Executive Director Mark Curran and Shelter Manager Marina Lewis after serving in their respective positions for less than a year.
Curran relocated to Florence in the fall of 2018 to take over the reins of the floundering organization after the Oregon Department of Justice (ODJ) initiated an inquiry into the process used by the humane society to nominate and elect members to its board of directors.
Unfortunately, Curran, who at the time was heralded as the “perfect hire,” resigned in January due to communication problems between himself and members of the OCHS Board.
The ODJ inquiry which resulted in Curran’s hiring was initiated in response to concerns shared by volunteers and staff members in 2017 that OCHS was not following basic “best practices” when selecting board members. There were no formal charges filed against the shelter by the ODJ after the conclusion of the inquiry and recommendations offered by the department to address the situation were later incorporated into OCHS’ operating principles.
ODJ also determined that serving board members had been seated improperly, so elections were held to fill all of the positions on the board. None of the directors seated at the time were reelected. The OCHS Board moved into 2019 with a new leadership team in place.
In addition, ODJ made a number of “strong suggestions” at the conclusion of its inquiry, which included the hiring of both a permanent shelter manager and the organization’s first executive director.
OCHS Board Chairperson Shauna Robbers said she believes the setbacks of the resignations do not present major obstacles to the organization.
“People quit jobs all the time. It’s just part of the process,” Robbers said.
Although Curran quit in early January, the board of directors did not post a job listing to the OCHS website until Feb. 3.
According to the job description, “The executive director serves as the dynamic liaison between the board of directors, the shelter staff, the thrift store staff and the community. The director will be expected to direct the administrative, financial, managerial and supervisory activities necessary to uphold the mission statement, policies and goals of OCHS, consulting with the board of directors in making decisions for the highest interest of the organization.”
Available job listings at OCHS are posted at www.oregoncoasthumanesociety.org/career-opportunities.
Robbers said, “We have sent out a letter to our members updating them on the work we are doing and what our plans are for the future, which we will be discussing at our next membership meeting.”
While the next board meeting is not listed on the OCHS website, shelter staff indicated that the board plans to meet quarterly and a date has not been selected.
The letter OCHS members received reviewed steps being taken to improve the skillset of board members and addressed some of the difficulties employees have dealt with for the past few years.
In terms of the board of directors, the letter said that members attended professionally run strategic planning sessions. Robbers reported the board “walked away with better skills and a mutual vision of where and how our organization can grow, profit and thrive in the coming years.”
The board also rejoined the Nonprofit Association of Oregon and Cascade Employers Association, added board meeting minutes to the OCHS website and began drafting plans for proposed remodel and expansion projects. One of those tasks was submitting to the county a request to extend and expand OCHS’ land lease.
“Expanding the amount of land we control will enable us to establish walking trails and help handle any future expansion at the shelter,” Robbers said. “The city police need us as they contract with us to drop off stray and lost dogs. Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich supports this request.”
OCHS also formed a committee for the Trap, Neuter and Release Program (TNR) and identified several community cat colonies in Florence.
“The TNR program will also provide education to the community,” Robbers said. “We are seeking grant and donor funding for this project.”
Other work detailed in the letter to members included addressing employee concerns. These included: drafting job descriptions for employee positions; creating job evaluation forms; completing the job description for executive director and posting it to Indeed.com and OCHS’ website; hiring a part-time IT expert; and eliminating inequities and setting appropriate pay scales for employees since “our employees are the bedrock of our organization and haven’t seen merit-based pay increases for a long time,” Robbers said.
The letter also talked about increased engagement with the Oregon Coast Humane Society Thrift Store Facebook page and employee safety.
The final item said that the annual OCHS Volunteer Appreciation Gathering is scheduled for March 15.
For more information, visit www.oregoncoasthumanesociety.org.