SideDoor is hiring a new executive director and making changes to the organization, months after some staff and youth publicly criticized management of the non-profit.
In March, several current and former staff made allegations of a “toxic and hostile” environment at the Yellowknife-based organization, which provides supports for vulnerable youth and young adults.
At the same time, some youth who use SideDoor’s services called for more financial transparency and the appointment of a new executive director.
Kirk Tastad, co-chair of SideDoor’s board of directors, told Cabin Radio in an email that former executive director Iris Notley resigned from the position and is leaving Yellowknife to “pursue other interests.”
“The board thanks her for her 6+ years of service, passion, and vision that has helped SideDoor/Hope’s Haven grow and expand to meet the ever changing needs of the youth of our community,” he wrote.
Tastad said the board had looked into complaints from staff and youth related to Notley’s conduct and made changes within the organization and its policies, including strengthening the youth council.
No allegations against Notley have been proven.
“Communication is key, and when that breaks down, misinformation spreads and leads to conflicts that could have potentially been avoided,” Tastad wrote.
“SideDoor has been working hard to build a safe community for our youth. We are thankful for a committed staff who are passionate about what they do.”
Tastad said the organization is conducting an independent organizational review of SideDoor/Hope’s Haven, including a youth forum, to identify what’s being done well and areas for improvement.
Changes have also been made to SideDoor’s youth resource centre.
For the past 20 years, the resource centre had been housed in the City of Yellowknife’s Mine Rescue Building downtown. In April, however, SideDoor’s lease agreement with the city ended and use of the building is currently open to proposals.
Tastad said the resource centre has since been operating out of the Hope’s Haven transitional housing building while the group waits to see what the city decides.
In 1995, SideDoor opened as a drop-in youth centre. It has since expanded to provide an emergency shelter and transitional housing for youth alongside wellness supports and training.
According to a job advertisement, the executive director is responsible for developing and implementing programs, managing human resources, staff training, and securing resources.
Noma Khumalo, who had been SideDoor’s operations manager, will be the acting executive director until the position is filled.