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She should disclose discomfort with new group member from her past

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Speak up about discomfort with new group member

Didn't run from my past fast enough: I just found out that someone from my past has joined a nonprofit that I am heavily involved in (I'm on the board). For various reasons, I am completely unwilling to be a part of this organization if this person is as well.

I feel that if I let the president know I cannot stay if this person does, then the president will "choose" me, but that just really doesn't sit right with me. On the other hand, if I say nothing and this person stays, I will feel forced to leave a group I love. I don't know what to do.

Carolyn: You know your three choices already: Stay and see what it's like to work with this person, resign, or let the president know of your situation. Or, shorter version, stay, go or fight. No one can make this decision but you, since, without specifics, there's very little to weigh besides your own comfort.

If you do decide to resign, tell the president your reasons in confidence so you can be notified if this person ever leaves the group.

Re: Run from past

Anonymous: I wonder if the writer is really being professional. If this new staff person has a conflict of interest, a criminal past or other disqualifying issue, the writer should make this known to the board because it is harmful to the organization. If the new staff person is just someone the writer had a bad breakup with, get over it.

Carolyn: I dunno, I think there's room for a gray area in between "report this person" and "grow up."

Run from my past, again: Why I don't either "report them or grow up": The person is a former friend as well as the relative of someone who stalked me for years, ending only when I changed my name, Social Security number, city and group of friends (which is why the person doesn't yet realize I'm a part of this organization). Our friendship was strained even before I "fell off the grid" in part because she would never fully admit the severity of her relative's actions. (I'll paraphrase: "What makes you think you are so hot or wonderful that someone would want to stalk you? Take it as a compliment and move on.")

This person is not a threat to me personally or a criminal or even a bad person, but I have no trust in their ability (or willingness) to keep my information private. Even if s/he did promise to keep my secret, the fear and anxiety about the "power" s/he would have over me would eat at me. I feel like a terrible person for either letting down this organization, which has been the one stable and positive force in the life I've rebuilt for myself, or insisting that a perfectly nice person is refused from an otherwise "all are welcome" group just because of me.

Carolyn: I think this certainly qualifies as a "gray area."

But given that you had a serious problem, and this person minimized said serious problem — and, from your paraphrase, sounds far from "perfectly nice" — I think the right thing is to talk to the president and preserve your sanctuary.

She should disclose discomfort with new group member from her past 09/05/11 [Last modified: Monday, September 5, 2011 4:30am]
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