Rewriting duties for three positions at the German Village Society has drawn scrutiny from neighborhood residents.
Some of the sharpest criticism has come from Katharine Moore, former executive director of the nonprofit organization.
Moore rebuked the current board of trustees and executive director Delilah Lopez for recalibrating the position of historic preservation advocate to include fundraising. The position has been renamed director of mission and partnership.
Moore also castigated leadership for shelving the work of the historic preservation committee, further undermining the society's mission to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood.
"The value of residential property, the identity as a national historic district and the support of the membership are all at risk," she said.
Moore said the nonprofit has "become nothing more than a chamber of commerce and a tourism promoter."
"The board could lease the Meeting Haus (home of the society's offices) to Experience Columbus as a visitors' center and save the $643,000 operating budget," Moore said. "This isn't a staff issue, this is the outcome of a board that has allowed significant mission drift."
Tension boiled over at the society's monthly meeting Aug. 13, when several audience members raised concerns to Lopez and the board about the newly established duties for the historic preservation advocate, a position formerly held by Nancy Kotting.
Kotting, along with Chelsey Craig, the society's manager of business relations and events, abruptly resigned Aug. 1. A third employee, Jena Wilson, the development and marketing coordinator, resigned in late June, leaving only Lopez and an assistant to handle duties of the staff.
The resignations were made after the society hired a human-resources consultant -- at a cost of $7,650 -- to do an internal exploration of the staff.
Lopez has said the reason for the audit was to "flush out rumor and what was fact."
"Turnover in nonprofit is cyclical and not at all uncommon," Lopez said. "This is a demanding industry where we have a duty to our stakeholders to keep our dollars to mission as high as possible so nonprofit professionals wear many hats and are pulled in many directions in an effort to do so.
"Unfortunately, when the organization is smaller, any turnover is seen and felt more visibly."
She said additional questions posed by ThisWeek Community News were considered "human-resources matters, which are not for public consumption and we will not comment on."
"We look forward to rebuilding a strong team to serve and protect the character and distinction of Ohio's oldest historic district," Lopez said.
She said the search is underway to fill all three positions, with job postings placed on LinkedIn, Indeed.com and the society's website.
In addition to the historic preservation advocate's position, the other two vacant position also were restructured and renamed. Lopez would not disclose the salaries for each of the three positions.
The manager of engagement and events will develop and lead strategies to increase engagement with the society, lead annual events and expand the organization's individual membership and volunteer base, according to the job description.
The development coordinator will be responsible for tracking and updating donor and finance/accounting databases, as well as the society's web and social-media platforms, server and hardware, according to the job description.
Additional complaints were lodged against the board for not consulting with the community on reorientation of the positions, particularly as it related to the director of mission and partnership.
Lopez and the board defended combining fundraising with historic preservation, saying donations are invaluable to the society and the move doesn't create a conflict of interest because the German Village Commission makes rulings involving matters relating to businesses.
Bill Curlis, former president of the society's board of trustees, disagreed.
"To not see there's a conflict of interest between the solicitation of the business community (for financial sponsorships) and the historic preservation officer is mind-boggling," he said.
The current board balked at involving the community in the hiring process, which also irked Curlis.
"I was very surprised by the attitude of the board by its response to the community, or lack of response to the community," he said.
"It was very clear that there was no intent of involving the community to resolve the issues that are there."