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November 19, 2010

Sue Doerfer resigns Equality Ohio post

Columbus--The executive director of Equality Ohio resigned at the beginning of the month, and the organization hopes to have her position filled early in the new year.

Sue Doerfer, who took over last January from the group’s inaugural executive director Lynne Bowman, sent out an e‑mail on November 4 announcing her departure.

Neither she nor Equality Ohio’s board president, Rev. Mike Castle, would reveal specifics as to the cause of the departure, but it appeared relatively amicable on both sides.

Castle said that there is not necessarily an official “interim director,” but pointed out that director of programs and outreach Kim Welter is back in the office after helping organize the election drive to retain Bowling Green’s antidiscrimination ordinances.

He said that Equality Ohio hopes to have the position of executive director filled in January, but the board will not begin the search in earnest until after their November 20 board meeting in Cincinnati.

“We have options we are considering, and all that’s going to be fleshed out this Saturday,” Castle said. “We want the board to be able to focus on that process and be happy with it.”

Doerfer, for her part, is taking some time for contemplation, having moved from clinical director of services at the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland to executive director of the Cleveland LGBT Center to the top post of Equality Ohio in eight years, without a break.

“I’m going to be taking some Sue time and examining my options,” she said.

“It was an honor to serve as the executive director of Equality Ohio, and I wish them the best as they move Ohio forward. I am excited to pursue the opportunities that are in front of me.”

While neither Doerfer nor Castle would expound upon the reasons for her departure, a former board member, who asked not to be identified, had an idea as to why things did not work out.

“I guess, as a former board member, the board is full of well-intentioned people, and several of them are willing to be active and do things, but Lynne’s style was micromanaging and doing everything herself, and I wonder if Sue expected more out of the board members,” the former board member said. “I’m wondering if she got appropriate help from the board instead of smiles and good intentions.”

The ex-board member pointed to a number of former staff members who had left because of Bowman’s close supervision. As the first executive director of Equality Ohio, she had great influence on the structure of the organization.

“My thought is that Lynne assembled a board that would be [subordinate to her] so that she could control everything, so now that she’s gone, there are only a few people on the board who actually know how to [do the] work,” the former member said. “If nobody tells you what is expected of you, you can’t expect them to do it.”

That difference in management styles, between Doerfer and Bowman, is likely the cause of Doerfer’s exit from Equality Ohio, the former board member posits.

As the executive director of the Cleveland LGBT Center, Doerfer had a strong board, a fact in which she reveled and something she encouraged. Board members hold TaDa! dinner fundraisers and often organize programming.

Between Castle and Equality Ohio Education Fund board chair Paul Feeney, with Welter and administrative manager Michele Hopkins in-office, the organization is on solid footing while the search for Doerfer’s replacement gets underway.

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