January 21, 2022 --
In April 2019, we announced that Lindsey Lughes would join the Center as our new Executive Director, following a national search conducted by our board. Lindsey had an impressive background in LGBTQ+ non-profit work. We were excited to have her lead our organization, which is one of the few in North Carolina to provide life-saving resources and programming to the LGBTQ+ community.
However, last summer we discovered some unusual financial activity in our books. After consulting with our accounting contractor and enlisting a law firm to investigate, Lindsey was placed on an immediate suspension. After a more thorough investigation, her employment was terminated. All of us at the Center were devastated and felt betrayed by Lindsey’s actions.
Nonprofits are particularly vulnerable to fraud for a variety of reasons, and unfortunately are less likely to report fraud to law enforcement for fear of reputation damage. We, however, made the intentional decision to quickly refer this to law enforcement and a criminal investigation is underway by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
We had planned to publicly share information about the fraud after charges had been filed because we do not want to interfere with the investigation. As the result of a recent media request, we are disclosing the fraud but not sharing information about how the fraud was perpetrated or the investigation itself.
While the SBI has been conducting this investigation, our Board and the Center have mobilized over the last 7 months to ensure something like this never happens again.
We implemented stricter internal controls and a wider separation of duties and have formed a finance committee of four people -- including two board members. A CPA is reviewing a 3-year period (fiscal year 2019, 2020, and 2021).
We are also grateful that our institutional funders have been extremely supportive and stand by us as we commit to this financial overhaul.
Additionally, the Center’s Board of Directors has enlisted Kevin Chase Search Group to recruit the Center’s next Executive Director. We will seek a diverse and representative pool of candidates with deep LGBTQIA expertise, as well as candidates with an understanding of intersectionality, marginalized communities, and experience engaging with people of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
In the interim, Dolph Goldenburg -- an experienced non-profit director and LGBTQ+ advocate -- has been serving as the Interim Executive Director, and our staff continue providing programs and services.
It’s never easy to convey this news. But we must be driven by our north star: how this Center can provide thousands of LGBTQ+ people in Raleigh and North Carolina with support and community. In a state that has an unfortunate history of homophobia and transphobia, our work could not be more critical. We look forward to this next chapter at the Center, and our door is open to your questions and feedback.