Ithaca land, under attack after the resignation of the CEO, he hired a management consultant to sell his property, which served the poor, to an exclusive buyer at below market value.
Advisor Scott Smith, owner of Stonehill Consulting Group LLC of Golden, tells this Indy He recommends that the board of directors put all further property sales and the development of a new family campus on hold for the time being.
“My recommendation to them is that we don’t sell anything until we better understand what this deal is about,” he said in an interview. Questions he hopes will help the board find answers include: why were the properties sold; were they reasonably sold; and the board had authority to sell them.
“It doesn’t feel right to me,” says Smith.
The deals were orchestrated by former CEO Anjuli Kapoor, who resigned in June, citing “personal attacks against her in the media, in her personal email and over the phone by opponents of Ithaca’s strategic direction”.
However, her LinkedIn page shows that she had already built up a side business as a “creative strategist” before her resignation in April. She quit her job in Ithaca in June after serving three and a half years as criticism grew over her plan to move from permanent housing for the poor of all ages in the Ithaca community to temporary housing for families. During this time, Ithaca also changed its name and deleted the word “Trust” from its title. The bylaws were not changed to reflect these changes, although the board approved a new mission statement, Smith says.
Kapoor’s plan was to liquidate approximately half of Ithaca’s two dozen properties, many of them below market value and with no estimates or offers, to a single developer, West Metro Fire Protection District Captain Drew Gaiser, and then some of those deals for that developer finance.
the Indy reported all of this in January, along with information about the developer, followed by a report on where Ithaca stands with loans it received from the city to buy some of its homes.
All of these facts prompted supporters of the Ithaca Land Trust – that was the name of the original organization founded in the 1980s by the late Steve Handen – to petition the Colorado prosecutor for an investigation.
Smith is also interested in what the working group will find and is planning a meeting with the staff of the working group in the coming weeks, he says.
“I see it as my responsibility to get to the bottom of this,” he says. “Ithaca is my customer. It is my responsibility to prepare things so that they know how to proceed. “
Smith’s firm has a long list of clients for whom he has provided interim management and interim executive director services – the services he will be providing for Ithaca. Past clients include nonprofit service agencies in Adams, Douglas Counties and the Denver area such as the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation, the Denver Children’s Advocacy Center, the Firefly Autism Center, the Montessori Academy of Colorado, and Freedom Service Dogs Inc. , to name just a few .
Stonehill gets paid $ 38,500 for five months of work that began in early August under the agreement that Smith dem Indy. The contract can be extended by mutual agreement.
It requires that Smith’s company oversee the provision of Ithaca’s services to its clients and also provide research and advice for “any partnership, joint service, or merger with another nonprofit agency …”.
These merger talks concern Family Promise of Colorado Springs, a nonprofit providing housing to families whose CEO Kat Lilley-Blair recently split from the organization. Lilley-Blair also served as Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Ithaka Land from May 2018 to October 2019.
Crystal Karr, interim managing director, informed employees and volunteers in a letter dated September 3 that Lilley-Blair was leaving Indy.
When asked about the resignation and the possible merger with Ithaca, Karr says by email: “It is pure coincidence that the two executives are no longer with their respective agencies. Currently, Family Promise is fully focused on fulfilling our mission of mobilizing the community by advocating for families with children and empowering them to achieve stable living conditions. We are not currently in talks about mergers. “
Smith says he advised the Ithaca board of directors to put any program changes – including house sales, development of a new family residential complex on South Union Boulevard, or a merger – on hold pending the corporation’s report and further investigation into Ithaca’s business are present.
A request from Handen’s daughter Emmy, who runs Mesa House, a not-for-profit housing association for the poor, has called on the Ithaca community to retake the house at 411 W. Bijou Street. The Bijou House was the first to be acquired by the Ithaka Land Trust and has an on-site columbarium that serves as the final resting place for hundreds of the poor and homeless.
“We’re trying to understand if we’re getting it back,” says Smith. “Can someone buy it back?” The house is now owned by Drew Gaiser.
Regarding 10 property sales in about a year, all to Gaiser, Smith says, “My understanding is she [Kapoor] brought this to the board as a done deal. she [the board] have an appetite to find out what the truth is in all of this. “
Smith says that nonprofits have a “special place” in society, considering the government allows for tax deductions. “We have a responsibility to use the money transparently and honestly, depending on how the donors have spent it, because we are unique,” he says.
In a message to supporters of the Ithaka Land Trust, Emmy Handen said Gaiser wanted to put discussions on a possible sale of Bijou House on hold until the AG’s investigations are concluded.
Handen also reported that Ithaka’s interim CEO Smith, with whom she recently met, “appeared to be interested in being more open and open to the community’s input in defining their mission and path forward.”
“They also said they wanted to leave the columbarium as it is,” she wrote. “This is tricky because it is legally part of it [Gaiser], but we have discussed that we can hold our Longest Night service on December 21st, and Ithaca has agreed to help. ”