David Archie is back in his rightful place as executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Progress in Tarpon Springs and working to forget the ugliness that briefly cost him that job and forced him to battle to clear his name. Although that chapter was painful for him, it has opened an opportunity for CAP to be stronger than ever.
Archie, 55, had directed the nonprofit community services organization for 15 years when he was betrayed by people whose involvement with CAP implied that they had the best interest of the community at heart. Clearly, they did not.
Archie was fired by a narrow majority of the CAP board just before Christmas after two board members, Annie Dabbs and Ed Cole, lobbed scurrilous charges against him and claimed that CAP would lose its funding from the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board if Archie weren't fired. Archie and two of his staff members, Leah Johnson and Frances Serrano-Lux, promptly were locked out of the CAP center.
In the days that followed, Archie learned he has many friends at all levels of society in Tarpon Springs, where he was a city commissioner and vice mayor for years, and throughout Pinellas County. A person who gives as much to his community as Archie has is bound to have a network. Archie's network rushed to inform the CAP board, the Juvenile Welfare Board and Pinellas Core Management Services, which manages small JWB-funded nonprofits, that what had been done to Archie was wrong.
The charges by Dabbs and Cole proved to be baseless. And on Feb. 12, at a special meeting before a big crowd of concerned residents, the CAP board that had been led by Dabbs and Cole removed them and voted in new members. It elected a new president, Maggie Miles. And the board soon began negotiations to reinstate Archie.
Last week Archie returned to work, at the same salary he had been paid before he was fired. His two staff members also were rehired. There are still open wounds, but Archie says he is trying to just go forward.
"There are some good things coming out of it, like involvement by the community," he said.
Archie should seize the moment. Those who came to his defense, who attended the special board meeting and who were elected to the new board showed by their actions that they believe in the mission of CAP and the man who runs it.
Archie should call upon them to help him build a broader foundation for CAP in Tarpon Springs. These are difficult times for most nonprofits, which are seeing their funding streams dry up. Archie's network can help strengthen CAP by volunteering time and expertise or by donating goods or money.
Community service organizations like CAP are needed now more than ever. How fortunate it is that Archie, who understands the needs in Tarpon Springs better than anyone, is back onboard.