Growing Food Forward dismisses Wille
Growing Food Forward has dismissed Kim Wille as executive director, according to a statement from the board released June 3.
An investigation by 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia that ultimately found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing was not the determining factor in Wille’s suspension in March and ultimate dismissal, the board said.
“Ms. Wille was given every opportunity to succeed during her time with the organization and we wish her all the best in the spirit of community service,” the press release stated. “GFF will continue to operate as an independent grassroots-supported nonprofit organization without salaried employees at this time. We are blessed to have many humble ‘hands in the dirt’ with volunteer gardeners, builders and students continuing the organization’s mission with a ‘less is more’ approach to meet realistic goals focused on community impact for the people we serve.”
Wille responded to a Facebook message, but declined to comment citing pressing health issues.
Wille on May 30 shared the Post Independent report on Caloia’s findings on Facebook, telling readers there that “trying to find a job with a ‘criminal investigation’ and nasty fraudulent allegations hanging over me for 2 months” had been difficult.
“I want to thank all of you who hung by me during this unwarranted debacle,” she wrote. “I had nothing to hide, knew I would be vindicated and am so very grateful to those of you who believe in me and gave such great support and actions.”
The statement from Growing Food Forward was the first mention of Wille’s dismissal, and it came less than a week after Caloia announced that her investigation found no wrongdoing by the now former executive director. The board asked Caloia to investigate what it called “questionable transactions.”
In her statement, Caloia noted that Growing Food Forward is a new organization with a volunteer board, and while the organization’s mission is meritorious, keeping proper financial records can be challenging for people who have not done so before.
“We did have to sort through a number of transactions (with only receipts and statements) that were not appropriately documented and accounted for,” the press release stated. “However we did not find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. There was no evidence that GFF funds were used for the private benefit of Kim Wille.”
As executive director, Wille was compensated $30,000 in the organization’s first year as an official nonprofit corporation, according to the organization’s application for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Growing Food Forward plans on going forward with its programs and has secured 2,500 square feet of garden space to manage, with 100 percent of that produce going to the senior center, LIFT-UP, Colorado State Veterans Home of Rifle and Totes for Hope program, according to the press release.
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