Eric Richardson brutally fired from local NAACP leadership – Eugene Weekly
After serving nearly nine years, Eric Richardson’s time in a leadership role at the Eugene / Springfield NAACP is over.
Richardson says the decision was disappointing, but he’s happy the organization doesn’t depend on a single leader. The local chapter of the NAACP dismissed Richardson as executive director on November 29. Vice-chairman of the board, Adam Wendt, said the decision was made so that the organization can find an executive director who meets current needs.
During Richardson’s nearly decade of leadership in the local chapter of the NAACP, he worked with many community organizations, helped establish the Mims family in their deserved place in local history, helped create the position of executive director of the organization and provided services to low-income people. families during the pandemic.
âUnfortunately, that was something I had planned to happen,â says Richardson of the board that fired him from his post as executive director after his leadership role, but says the bluntness of that caught him off guard.
Wendt tells Eugene Weekly that the council will issue a statement to the public on December 1. He said one thing the board was concerned about was supporting growth while building the capacity of the organization. âOne thing we decided to do is have an executive director who has these skills,â he says.
Wendt says that by building capacity, he intends to establish operational systems, such as human resources and payroll, that are unified. He says Richardson has served well in the executive director position, but the board is keen to hire someone with capacity building experience.
âEric is really amazing,â says Wendt. “We hope that he will remain involved in the unit even though he will not lead it.”
Wendt was named the group’s registered agent in an Oct. 21 filing with the Oregon Secretary of State. An amended annual report filing of September 26, 2020 had Richardson as a registered agent.
The Eugene / Springfield NAACP website lists four board members: President Miles Pendleton, Vice President Wendt, Secretary Laura Vinson, and Treasurer Rhiauna Vinson (the latter two are mother and daughter).
During Richardson’s years of work at the Eugene / Springfield NAACP chapter, he served as president and then was named executive director in 2019. He says his biggest work is around the Mims family in general, cementing the narrative of the African-American community and the place of Maison Mims in local history. He adds that moving the Eugene / Springfield NAACP Chapter to the Mims House and erecting a monument for the family are among his accomplishments.
In 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, GE readers voted Richardson the “Best Civil Rights Leader”.
Richardson says that as someone who was involved in the creation of the executive director position by the local, he must be in favor of the right of a strong council to fire its leader. âAt the same time, I’m disappointed that it was abrupt,â he adds.
Wendt says it was a question of what the board and the local should focus on, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
Wendt says when the executive director position was first created in 2019, no one applied for it, so Richardson stepped in to serve on an interim basis. But the board hired knowing Richardson didn’t have all the skills needed for the job, he says.
“It’s just that at the end of the day, with everything that has happened over the past couple of years and the growth of the unit, we felt we had to make a change and make our operations a little bit better. clean, âsays Wendt.
Richardson says he is happy to serve the community and looks forward to being in Eugene as a citizen. âI hope the community can come together and overcome the quagmire we find ourselves in. There is a lot of confusion, a lot of divisions, a lot of politics that are causing grief to people, âhe said.
In the future, Richardson says he hopes the community can build on what has been established at the local chapter of the NAACP. He says he saw some upset chapter members on Facebook. On November 30, a Facebook post by Niyah Ross questioned the decision, saying it was made by a largely white board.
Richardson says he understands the concerns of the community. But that the success of the NAACP “does not depend on my presence”. He adds that success is possible if members are involved in the work of the organization. âThis is about the work of the NAACP and the United States as a more holistic and collective unit. ”
Richardson says, âI’m just trying to process things and figure out how to move forward and how to help all of the community partners that I hold dear and who have worked with us over the years. ”