Howard agency makes quick changes

New board suspends director

March 25, 2011|By Larry Carson, The Baltimore Sun

The new board of Howard County's troubled Domestic Violence Center is acting quickly to make changes.

Lara C. Weathersbee, who was named board chairwoman Tuesday, says the group has placed executive director Annie Burton-Byrd on paid administrative leave. Amy Abrams, the agency's clinical director, was named acting director.

"The services provided by the DVC will remain uninterrupted," Weathersbee said. "The safety of our clients is priority No. 1."

Burton-Byrd was hired by the Columbia nonprofit on Jan. 31 but quickly got into trouble when it was learned that she is barred until July 22 from participating in federally funded programs. She was accused of using five AmeriCorps volunteers to do work for her private realty company when she ran the afterschool program at Martin Luther King in Baltimore in 2005. She was never charged, and has said she did not know about the debarment.

"I still believe I'm the right person for the job," Burton-Byrd said.

The 33-year old Domestic Violence Center had serious problems before Burton-Byrd's hiring, according to a detailed internal review done late last year by Maryland Nonprofits. But after her situation came to light, most of the former board members resigned and the agency nearly closed. County Executive Ken Ulman recruited new board members.

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