Correction: Columbia residents are considering legal action against the Columbia Association Board of Directors. The parties considering legal action were misstated in an earlier version of this story. The Business Monthly regrets the error.
This story has been updated.
The Columbia Association board of directors said Friday afternoon it wants to improve its working relationship with its president and CEO.
“… The Board of Directors seeks to improve the relationship and communications between Ms. Boyd and the Board, and has presented a plan to Ms. Boyd to accomplish that goal,” board Chair Eric Greenberg said in a statement. “The Board is hopeful this plan will foster a productive working relationship and positive changes.”
The statement marks the first time the board, as a body, has officially commented on Boyd’s status since she inquired about whether she should be concerned about her job security in the October 27 CA board meeting.
Boyd learned of the plan on Friday morning, CA Media Relations and Communications Manager Dannika Rynes told The Business Monthly late Friday afternoon. She said Friday there was not yet a comment from Boyd on the plan.
The statement came after a coalition of community leaders in Columbia called for urgent and sustained action from residents and stakeholders in response to what it called ongoing misconduct and dysfunction exhibited by the Columbia Association’s board of directors.
“To the Board of Directors, you should know that a growing number of individual residents of Columbia are strongly considering legal action against you for breach of duty of loyalty, breach of duty of fidelity and inappropriate behavior,” said Columbia resident Erika Strauss Chavarria. “Please take this as a warning if you continue to ignore the demands of this community.”
The call came after multiple reports of some board members’ attempts to terminate CA President/CEO Lakey Boyd without what the community considered just cause. Members of the community also said in statement that there have been multiple reports that the CA Board is “squandering resources to do so.”
Representatives from multiple community organizations and Columbia residents were joined by other community leaders at a Monday press conference that was aimed at drawing attention to the actions of CA’s board and the impact those actions have on the community.
“Since her arrival a year-and-a-half ago, Lakey Boyd has been a constant presence in this community,” The 3rd Founder Laura Bacon said. “She has made every effort to connect with and convene with everyone ― all people of all backgrounds ― on top of leading a highly functioning organization. Lakey has made and promoted positive change, nurtured meaningful partnerships and brought more inclusive programming to Columbia. She is committed to listening to and serving our diverse community and working toward a better future.”
Community members said that the community recently learned that the board has held 11 closed meetings during the last six months, which is the same number of open meetings held by the board in that same time span. Boyd’s performance and/or employment was discussed in nine of those meetings.
The Board is required under the Maryland HOA Act to announce closed meetings at the subsequent open meeting. The Columbia Association provided a list of previously undisclosed meetings in response to an information request from Jessamine Duvall, a Columbia resident. Another closed meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 4.
Community residents also said that less than 1% of Columbia’s population voted the current CA Board members into their positions and that those members have collectively served on the Board for more than 40 years. It also said that the Board has also spent more than $40,000 on an outside counsel (during the course of three months) against the recommendations of CA staff, and that that attorney is still providing services to the Board.
“This is a disastrous waste of your CA assessment dollars,” former CA Board member Ashley Vaughn said. “If the Board terminates Lakey without cause, the organization will also need to pay out the remainder of her contract. That decision alone would cost the organization half a million dollars. As a community, we get nothing from this financial burden. And what will this flagrant waste of resources lead to? Another round of layoffs? Will we see a decrease in free and accessible programs? Will pools be closed this summer? This Board needs to put the needs of our community over their own personal agendas.”
Those in attendance on Monday called on residents, business owners, annual charge assessment payers, CA members, and any other stakeholders to take immediate action. Websites for five of Columbia’s 10 villages where residents can send petitions to village board members and their CA Board representatives, urging them to initiate the recall process, can be found here: Dorsey’s Search; Harper’s Choice; Oakland Mills; River Hill; Town Center. Petitions in support of the sitting CA board members could not be located.
The next open board meeting is set for Jan. 12. Resident Speakout takes place at the start of each of those meetings. To participate, sign up at www.columbiaassociation.org/about-us/leadership/board-of-directors/resident-speakout.