Trouble Brewing for RPCVs–Bad Decision at the NPCA
Today, we begin a new chapter at NPCA. The Board of Directors announces the departure of NPCA President and CEO, Glenn Blumhorst. We are grateful for Mr. Blumhorst’s years of leadership and dedication to the Peace Corps through service, advocacy, and support, and wish him well in his future endeavors. Kim Herman has been appointed as Interim President and CEO with full authority while an Executive search is conducted for NPCA’s next leader. Jed Meline, former Vice Chair of the Board, is serving as Interim Board Chair.
Comment: As Co-Founder and (forever) Member of NPCA, RPCV/W (formerly AAAGWA), Friends of Nigeria, and Shriver Circle, plus current member of them + NorCal PCA, I am familiar with allegations against Glenn Blumhorst and–based on my personal interactions with some involved–I am quite saddened to learn that Glenn has become the victim of the Board’s dismissal. And for this to happen when NPCA is moving into its new HQs on Capitol Hill—WOW! Not good! It’s a sad day/month/year/etc. in the RPCV and PC world!
Posted by: Karen J Keefer (Nigeria 1966-68)
Comment: Glenn Blumhorst did not retire, nor did he resign as President & CEO. Glenn’s employment was terminated by the board without prior notice and without cause. He was offered severance pay of only 3 months, an amount that is grossly inadequate for an executive who has strengthened and built the organization over a nine-year period, through tireless effort and dedication. Fifteen individuals who are active Shriver Circle donors and have a long association with the NPCA sent a letter to the board, prior to Friday afternoon’s announcement, with a proposal to remedy this situation. We have not received a response. Twenty more individuals have now signed on to this letter. If you wish to join us, please email me: email@example.com. Tony Barclay, Kenya 1968-70, NPCA Board Chair, 2011-15
Posted by: Tony Barclay
21 CommentsLeave a comment
I am shocked. Glenn has been a tireless advocate for the Peace Corps and a man who exemplified its values. We deserve to know why Glenn was terminated.
This is what an “at will” employee should anticipate before signing a contract. It’s part of the job: either get along or get out. Severance pay is also part of the same contract. What’s with a discussion? If you don’t like it, make sure you don’t apply for the job.
Please consider the other side of the story by reading: http://www.rpcvallies.org
“Dear Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Peace Corps family and friends, Peace Corps Allies, Elected Officials, and Peace Corps Agency Staff,
We are writing to you as former NPCA staff who want change. A strong Peace Corps is built on a strong Peace Corps Community. However, our opinion is that sexism and gender-based violence, including violence against women, is a culture and problem in the Peace Corps, as victims of sexual assault during Peace Corps service made publicly aware. However, sexism and gender-based violence, especially violence against women also permeate the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) community and the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). NPCA – the organization that represents 230,000 RPCVs and advocates to Congress in support of Peace Corps – enables sexism through its actions with the Peace Corps community, internally with staff, and in its culture. We are being harmed, and we want it to stop.”
Dear Members of the Peace Corps Community,
National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is dedicated to serving the Peace Corps community and supporting the mission of the Peace Corps. NPCA is committed to providing support, resources, and advocacy while promoting a spirit of respect and acceptance of all people.
The Board of NPCA takes all allegations of an unsafe or hostile workplace environment for women or others very seriously and has not and will not condone such an environment at NPCA. The allegations referenced in the recent posts online are not new. The Board took action to engage an independent and qualified investigator to conduct a thorough examination of these charges when they were brought to the attention of the Board. The independent investigator concluded that the allegations of misconduct were not credible and that NPCA did not present an unsafe or hostile work environment for women.
The posts also reference an older lawsuit in which other former employees alleged a hostile work environment at NPCA. In that case, the allegations were investigated by an experienced and qualified attorney who found the allegations unfounded.
We regret these allegations have been raised again in an attempt to damage the reputation of NPCA and its employees. The board and staff of NPCA remain committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of its operation.
Board Chair, NPCA
This statement was published on the NPCA website on May 22, 2022
The above statement is from the NPCA Board on May 22, 2022. I will try and include the link to the statement. Here: https://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articles/statement-on-recent-posts-online-making-allegations-against-npca
The statement announcing Glenn Blumhorst appeared on the NPCA website on June 17, 2022.
The statement announcing Glenn blumhorst’s department appeared on the NPCA website on June 17, 2022. I could not find any other statement between the one on May 22nd and the one on June 17th.
Please read RPCV Allies’ response to the NPCA statement. http://www.rpcvallies.org/Response
“Let’s be clear – these allegations are credible and well-founded.
The NPCA board of directors hired an attorney to investigate the September 2021 complaint. The attorney did not determine if the allegations were credible. He determined that there was no unlawful sex discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Unfortunately, legal protections fall short, and the burden of proof is high for sex discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.”
Discrimination is determined by comparing the experience of men and women. We were unable to show comparison because there was only one part time male subordinate employee at NPCA to compare experiences to and he did not report to Glenn. Discrimination is also determined by overt comments that can be proven they were said. We describe subtle covert actions. The law simply falls short.
As a member of the selection committee that originally picked Glenn to be President of NPCA, I was shocked to learn that the current Board has dismissed him as head of the organization. When Glenn took over the organization it was in financial trouble and had lost the respect of many RPCVs. Glenn rebuilt NPCA, recruited competent staff and gained the respect of the Peace Corps Directors and their staffs. He made a point of visiting regional RPCV groups to gain support for NPCA programs. As a former member of the Board I was personally aware of his many invaluable contributions. Why was he fired in a message which suggested a coup d’etat? And it raises questions about the guy who engineered Glenn’s termination and then made himself Interim President. Until the current Board comes up with a satisfactory explanation I will no longer support an organization I once respected. And if there is no satisfactory explanation, I demand that Glenn be restored by the Board to his position immediately.
I also would like an explanation as to what exactly were the charges against, specifically, who had been harmed, and who made the accusations? Until that happens I will also discontinue my support of the NPCA! Because it was done in secret, I suspect there are some on the board with something to hide?? Among his unique contributions, Glenn was instrumental in bringng Peace Corps and Rotary International together in organizations such as the affiliate PARTNERING FOR PEACE, of which I was an original board member. I have never known Glenn to be anything but a caring individual and don’t find accusations of “unlawful sex discrimination” at all credible, and board members who conspired to oust him should be voted out.
Harlan Green, Turkey V (1964-66)
To so many of us who know Glenn, who have spent time with him at our RPCV meetings, national conferences and elsewhere we find it unbelievable that he could be dismissed so summarily as a result of some vicious gossip. We all owe Glenn a great debt of respect and support and I agree with Harlan that we might have to boycott NPCA until this matter is more fully revealed and remedied.
We happen to be very fond of Glenn and appreciate all his years of personal support.
Leita Kaldi Davis
Recipient Illian Carter Award 2017 where Glenn was present to guide me through the ceremony, thank you again, Glenn.
Yes, this is very strange. And smacks of retaliation rather than lack of competence. Allegations of discrimination are vague terms and Glenn, as we all know him, manages to get much accomplished, has the heart of the Peace Corps always at his center, and is respected by all of us. This is a dark day for us RPCVs.
I believe those who laud Glenn’s contributions to Peace Corps. However, I also believe the two women and their numerous, specific examples of Glenn’s behavior. I do not believe these were fabricated or misinterpreted. One can be very competent at one’s job and also be chauvinistic towards certain individuals. I believe the women regardless of how much others praise him. Should Glenn be excused just because he’s a star quarterback?
What were the ” I also believe the two women and their numerous, specific examples of Glenn’s behavior.”? How were you able to learn of the specific examples? They were not published, as far as I know. Indeed, that is one of the many concerns, that I have. The failure of the NPCA Board to be specific, allows for speculation which is determental to the organziation as well as staff, present and past. Please cite your sources. Thank you.
Thank you very much for the link I read the complaint which was filed August 24, 2018. The actions alledged were hard to read and would have been difficult to experience.
I could not find the response of the NPCA and the named staff or the final result of the complaint.
I was using NPCA in my online search, which evidently also stands for the National Park Conservation Association.
I have read about the disposition, but I would like to read it the actual court determination. Do you have a link for that?
I would also note that NPCA hired a law firm to investigate the complaints of a toxic work environment. The Board posted a letter on May 22, 2022 stating the investigation found nothing illegal. Glenn Blumhorst was terminated almost four years after the complaint was filed with the DC District Court.
I don’t think it is sufficient to post the complaint and not follow through with what resulted.
I’m no investigator, but I suspect it has not yet come to trial, and I have no idea if a judge or jury will decide or, perhaps more likely, it will be settled ‘out-of-court.’ Again, I happen to think the women would not take this to court if their complaints were frivolous, and one would think they will have supporting witness testimony. Glenn also has the option of counter-suit against NPCA for unjustified termination. It’s just too early to know ‘the results.’
Martin, That complaint was filed four years ago. I don’t think it would be open this long. I will see if NPCA has posted anything. It has minutes and yearly reports in the documents which are posted. Have you read the May 22, 2022 letter from the NPCA Board of Directors?
Well it was indeed ‘eventually’ settled out-of-court, but we don’t and won’t know the details, or even when that took place. But things evidently continued:
● In 2017, NPCA employees raised complaints of gender discrimination to the NPCA Board of Directors.
● In 2018, two women filed a lawsuit against NPCA for a sexually hostile work environment and retaliatory firing. It was eventually settled out of court.
● Since June 2020, numerous staff members have taken extraordinary efforts to address discrimination issues directly with all staff leadership; with NPCA’s Human Resources (HR) consultant; through other consultants; and with NPCA Board members. However, not only were the issues not addressed, but two staff members were then put on “Communication Coaching Plans” with HR. Reasons, among others, included using a “confrontational tone” and were asked not to use words such as “gaslighting” or other words perceived as “aggressive”. Then job responsibilities assigned for these staff significantly declined.
● On September 15, 2021 four women employees at NPCA submitted a complaint of sex-based harassment, gender discrimination, and implicit gender bias against women to the NPCA Board of Directors. Following the complaint, one of the employees was fired and the contract of another ended. Despite extraordinary efforts from staff to raise concerns, the behavior of leadership has not changed.
I do not know when Glenn left the NPCA but believe it was fairly recently. Was he the employee who was fired or the one whose contract ended?
p.s. – Could not find the May 22 letter you refer to. I’m mot a NPCA member and thus cannot ‘log in.’ if that’s what’s required. Otherwise kindly send the link.
Here is the letter written by the then Chair of the Board of Directors at NPCA: https://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/articles/statement-on-recent-posts-online-making-allegations-against-npca
Please let me know if you cannot open the link.
Thanks. I actually had seen (and forgotten) it, as it struck me as an expected result at the time. Again, I’ve never met Glenn and have heard good things about him from RPCV friends here in my town, which he visited last year. (I didn’t attend.) In no way do I dispute his contributions to Peace Corps and NPCA or the opinions of his many friends. But I don’t think that exonerates him from behaviors which these friends simply were not exposed to. One either believes the women or does not. I have personal friends who have made similar, bad choices in life, and we’re still friends. But they don’t deny their transgressions. Some friends think that Peace Corps is a waste of time, but we’re still friends too.