CEO's Firing Leads To Resignations At Tulsa Red Cross

Thursday, July 2nd 2009, 10:25 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The long time CEO of the Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross was fired on Wednesday and the local board of directors resigned on Thursday.  The board chairman says it's because the Tulsa chapter no longer is under local control.

George Singer resigned from the board after the national leaders of the charity fired Mary Ogle, the CEO.

"It's not just the fact of her dismissal; it's the reason for dismissal," said George Singer.

Singer says Ogle was fired because she resisted a shift in control of the chapter away from the local board to the national office.

"This is not about the mission of the Red Cross, it's about who administers this chapter.  And, some of us don't have the time nor the inclination to be window dressing for an organization that's no longer run by Tulsans for the benefit of Tulsans," said George Singer.

The Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross wouldn't comment on why Mary Ogle was fired, calling it a personnel matter.  They say the work of the chapter continues uninterrupted, even though the local CEO is out and the entire local board has apparently resigned.

"There has been an email sent from the board chair.  We don't know how many board members resigned, and we know change is difficult," said Nellie Kelly with the Red Cross.

Kelly says the 16 member board will be replaced, and the new board will hire a new CEO.  They'll be in charge of the $4.5 million annual budget.  Kelly says disaster relief work won't be affected and the balance of power has not changed.

"No, locally, the Red Cross has always been a grass roots organization and it always will be," said Nellie Kelly.

Singer says the national Red Cross is now running the Tulsa chapter and falsely claiming the changes will save money.

"There's nothing in their explanation, none of the streamlining or cost savings requires a change in governance.  It doesn't connect.  It's simply a cover story to justify consolidation of authority," said George Singer.

Singer believes the leadership shakeup will scare off the chapter's most generous donors.

"I think it's going to be devastating for fundraising because when people can't trust that money is going to be used for their fellow citizens, they're very reluctant to give," said George Singer.

Read the resignation letter from the board, see the list of members, and a written statement from the Red Cross.