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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Greenway

Wakefield Centre fires GM three days before Christmas

Board members of the Wakefield community centre said they had “no choice” but to fire general manager Carolyn Nolan three days before Christmas after they claim she shared confidential emails she was accidentally included on that discussed the plan to fire her in the new year.

According to Centre Wakefield La Pêche board member Peter Gillies, the board was unaware that Nolan was cc’d on group emails that contained lead-up discussions and, ultimately, the decision to fire her for “not meeting her requirements of the job.”

Gillies told the Low Down that the initial plan was to dismiss Nolan in the new year, but after learning that she had access to these “confidential” emails and that she had sent them to people outside the organization, the board moved to remove her immediately for “breach of confidentiality.”

“On Dec. 21, we discovered that she had access to some board emails, which were confidential and clearly marked confidential, and she had made public at least one of those emails,” said Gillies, admitting that he was the board member who originally sent the group email. He called it a “technical mistake” to include Nolan on discussion emails to fire her.

“On Dec. 20, she had disclosed to at least two members of the public some information that was clearly private, and she knew was clearly private. We had an emergency call the next night and decided this was super egregious behaviour. We moved to termination immediately because of the risk of further contaminating the situation. The risk was high, and it was our responsibility to remove her from the position as quickly as possible, so we had no other choice, really,” added Gillies.

Nolan claims that she never sent any confidential emails to members of the public and called on board members to “prove it.” And while she did admit that there were some minor issues with tax exemption and grant applications, she didn’t think they were fireable offences.

Nolan told the Low Down she has endured a “crazy stressful” few weeks and described the emotional toll of learning of her peers’ secret plans to fire her.

“I think the first couple of days I was just in shock, and Christmas Day was not good,” said Nolan, who said board members showed up at the centre Dec. 22 with a letter of termination, effective immediately. Nolan said she spent Christmas Day in an emergency room from the stress of losing her job over the holidays and spoke of a toxic culture at the centre where she said she was treated “like a 12-year-old.”

“It’s shocking to me. I do not treat people the way that I have been treated there. It was incredibly disrespectful,” she said.

Nolan is the fifth general manager in as many years to be fired and the second in a single year after the centre fired director-general Blair Mackay in July. Nolan was fired before her probation period was up. Prior to her firing, she said she spent much of her time repairing relationships between the community centre and the community.

“It was about building relationships,” she said. “Everybody in the community is a little bit pissed off at the community centre, so I was mending those bridges.”

According to centre board chair Vicky Carlan, several issues led to the board’s unanimous decision to fire Nolan, although she wouldn’t divulge specifics. She said the board did not intend to fire her so close to the holidays.

“It was not something we wanted to do before Christmas. It was a difficult decision for us; we did not take it lightly,” said Carlan. “In terms of the need to let her go, it was clearly not one event, but a number of events, and [Nolan] was not meeting her requirements of the job; it really is just as simple as that.”

Carlan added that Nolan’s “breach of confidentiality” to leaked emails led to the decision to fire her immediately.

Carlan said that the centre is in no rush to hire a new general manager and added that the centre will look to a new management approach in the future as the “current model isn’t working,” referring to the five general managers that have been fired from the centre’s helm.

In the meantime, Gillies said board members will take over the work that Nolan was or wasn’t doing.

“Each of the ten members of the board that voted unanimously to terminate her has followed through with their commitment to fill the gaps,” he said, continuing, “some of which are left by Carolyn’s absence, but many of which weren’t being done.”


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