Growing Food Forward suspends founder |

Growing Food Forward suspends founder

Ryan Hoffman
Kim Wille
Aspen Times |

The board of directors of Growing Food Forward, a nonprofit focused on food education and hunger relief from Parachute to Aspen, recently suspended its director and founder Kim Wille.

The four-person board placed Wille on unpaid administrative suspension March 6, according to Wille.

Andrea Matthews, board president, confirmed that Wille was suspended, adding that the matter is related to an internal audit currently being conducted. Contrary to some talk in the area, Matthews said, Wille was not fired.

“She has not been fired, and we’ve received no word that she has resigned,” Matthews said.

Since the review is internal and ongoing, Matthews declined to comment further on the situation other than that the board is considering “how best to work with Kim” and that the organization is “actively moving forward.”

The decision came as a shock to Wille, who said she did not sense anything was wrong. Since the decision, Wille said she has tried to communicate with the board, but members have been unresponsive. She declined to comment further other than to say she is trying to resolve the issue.

Growing Food Forward, based in El Jebel, recently finished its first year as a registered 501(c)(3) — a tax-exempt status for groups commonly thought of as charitable organizations.

The organization was recently awarded $5,000 from LiveWell Garfield County to cover capital expenses for gardens and countywide workshops. It has strong affiliations in the Roaring Fork and Colorado river valleys. With volunteer help, it distributes non-GMO heirloom seeds, tends numerous gardens, and delivers food to clients, pantries and distribution points. It has seed libraries at the Garfield County libraries and offers a range of classes.

In an email April 3 addressed to the “friends of Growing Food Forward,” the board of directors wrote that it was in the process of evaluating “our program strengths and weaknesses in our first year of operation based on a quantifiable diagnostic approach to maximize our resources and implement our mission accordingly.”

The board will focus on organizational sustainability and grass roots support for its programs in 2015, the email said. The message did not mention Wille’s suspension.

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