WALLINGFORD — Wallingford Center Inc., a nonprofit created to preserve and revitalize downtown businesses, is going through a time of transition, including a change in executive leadership.
The WCI board of directors is searching for a new executive director — the organization’s only full time employee — after terminating the previous one last month.
WCI, which shares an office with Hubcap at 128 Center St., is managed by a 15-member volunteer board and one full-time staff person — the executive director.
Liz Landow served as executive director for 11 years and retired in late September 2020.
Her successor, Kathy Lilley, took over in November 2020, but was let go from the position last month.
It’s unclear why Lilley’s employment was terminated. Lilley declined to go into detail about the circumstances of her departure, but said Wednesday it was due to differences in opinion with the board over the best way to serve the community.
“I loved the job, and I felt I made a difference in the nine months I was there,” she said.
Elizabeth Davis, WCI board president, declined to comment on the situation Tuesday, saying “it is a personnel matter.”
According to WCI meeting minutes, the board discussed the situation with Lilley in a closed-door session on May 27. In public, the board voted to table any action regarding the issue at that meeting.
Resuming the discussion at its June 7 meeting, the board was informed that Lilley had been contacted via email, phone and text message and given the opportunity to resign, according to meeting minutes.
A motion to terminate her employment passed with one abstention.
Davis said Wednesday that board members are taking turns running the WCI office while seeking to fill the executive director position.
Celebrate on Center
WCI is planning a scaled down, one day version of its signature event, Celebrate Wallingford, which was canceled for the second year in a row due to COVID-19 concerns.
The new event, Celebrate on Center, is scheduled for Oct. 2.
“We definitely want to put that out there,” Davis said. “I know the town wants to have something, because we didn't do Celebrate Wallingford. It's a big event, and we know what's happening with COVID. We had feel out what was happening with the town.”
Davis said that for the mini celebration, Center Street will be blocked off — with permission from the state since it’s also Route 150 — to showcase the merchants on Center Street.
Plans are in the works for food offerings and a concert, she said.
WCI receives funds from the town and from private sources.
According to WCI’s 2019 public tax filing, WCI ran a deficit of nearly $3,800 after taking in $180,290 in revenue — $121,398 from contributions and $58,892 from fundraising events — leaving a fund balance of $10,000.
In 2018, WCI ran a surplus of $15,000 after taking in $150,754 in revenue. In 2017, WCI reported another deficit, almost $3,900 after taking in $180,875 in revenue.