Owensboro Human Relations Commission Executive Director Kaitlin Nonweiler and Executive Assistant Vicky Montalvo have both submitted resignations for their positions with the OHRC. According to OHRC board members, Nonweiler’s resignation will take effect Jan. 3, 2020, while Montalvo’s will take effect by Jan. 1, 2020.
A press release was sent out Tuesday by the HRC declaring an emergency meeting and an agenda sent out Wednesday said the OHRC would discuss a specific personnel matter regarding the appointment, discipline or dismissal of an individual employee. The agenda also stated that the OHRC would approve motions to appoint a new executive director and assistant at Wednesday’s meeting.
HRC Board Vice President Naheed Murtaza said the emergency meeting was also called so HRC leadership could discuss some budgetary issues with board members.
Murtaza said the OHRC had contacted the chief financial officer over some budgetary and financial discretions believed to have occurred during a Native American Heritage Celebration event that took place at Kentucky Wesleyan College in November.
“Based on what came forward at our Nov. 22 meeting with the funds, or payout, that we did not know of in the amount of approximately $3,000 — that is prompting us to go ahead and make sure everything else is accounted for,” she said. “At the end of the day, this is taxpayer money. This is donation money. We have to be good stewards about this.”
Murtaza said invoices dating all the way back to January 2019 were requested from Angela Hamric, . Murtaza called the invoices “very telling” during Wednesday’s meeting; also, the board is still waiting for April and October financial report updates from Nonweiler.
“We have been going through all of these invoices, and I’ll certainly share with you what we’re coming across — it’s very discerning,” Murtaza told the board. “That is something we’ve undertaken to make sure nothing else was done without any authorization.”
According to Murtaza and OHRC Board President Angelica Almanza, the HRC bylaws state that Nonweiler and Montalvo are required to get authorization for any spending over $500. The approximately $4,000 that was spent on the Native American celebration event was not authorized, they said.
In the wake of Nonweiler and Montalvo’s resignations, the OHRC voted Wednesday to appoint Joanne Kendall as the interim executive director and Jaklyn Mahree-Hill as the interim executive assistant. There will be some overlap in pay during the last two weeks of December, but the two interim staff members will not receive benefits during that time, Murtaza said.
According to Murtaza, when the board asked about the amount of money spent on the Native American event, Montalvo told them it had been approximately $3,000, more or less. Signatures were received from Nonweiler and Montalvo regarding the payout amount and ledgers were also put on record, Murtaza said.
“When we did the math, it was closer to $4,000,” she said. “That’s almost a $1,000 difference.”
A personal expense under $500 — close to $200, according to Murtaza — was also made that requires investigation from HRC leadership.
“We have to question why and what exactly was it, and how it pertains to the commission because, remember, at the end of the day there’s no personal expense allocation for the executive director or the assistant,” Murtaza said. “We were off with the budget, and we still don’t have the April and October accounts, and those were requested as well.”
Now, Murtaza said, the HRC is working with the City’s Director of Finance and Support Services Angela Hamric to balance its budget and figure out the discrepancies, another of which was believed to have happened in April, but the OHRC can’t confirm that until they receive the report and go over the numbers, Murtaza said.
The OHRC also approved an additional payout request of Nonweiler’s for four vacation days at Tuesday’s meeting.
Nonweiler — who’s served the OHRC’s executive director since being appointed in late 2018 — was not at Wednesday’s meeting and was unavailable for comment, but Owensboro Times was able to obtain her official resignation letter.
“Although my time with the Commission has been, overall, satisfying and productive, for some time I have become less and less satisfied with the work situation,” she wrote. “The lack of training, no clear work instructions, and the lack of communication, commitment and leadership from the Executive Committee has made it increasingly difficult to feel I can continue to serve in my position.”
In the letter written to Almanza, Nonweiler said she no longer felt “appreciated or supported by the Commission” and said she no longer saw an opportunity for personal growth by serving the HRC.
“I thank you for the opportunity. My experiences at the Commission have prepared me well for the future,” she wrote. “I wish you and the OHRC Board of Directors the very best going forward.”
The OHRC said their official statement in the wake of these departures is as follows: “We thank you for your service to the commission and to the community. We wish Ms. Nonweiler and Ms. Montalvo well in their future endeavors.”