In a move that will send ripples throughout Chicago’s LGBTQ community, Howard Brown Health Center announced that two of its key staff members have been placed on paid administrative leave: President/Chief Executive Officer Michael Cook and Chief Financial Officer Mark Joslyn. The news came through a brief March 30 press release, issued via Leslie Schreiber, director of media relations at Winger Marketing.
The release gave no specifics on the decision, saying only that it was “based on an internal decision made by the organization’s Executive Board of Directors.” The bulk of the release was about the appointment of Paul Fairchild as Howard Brown’s interim chief operating officer.
Windy City Times contacted Cook, Joslyn and Donald Rolfe, Howard Brown’s director of communications and business development, for verification. Neither Cook nor Joslyn have responded to our queries. Rolfe referred the paper to the press release (which had not yet been released) and said they would be happy to answer additional questions afterwards. WCTalso contacted Leslie Schreiber, who appears to be the main media liaison. Schreiber said that Fairchild would not be immediately available for questions and that further details would be forthcoming in an additional press release, the date of which is yet undetermined.
Fairchild has been with Howard Brown since 2007 and was, before that, vice president of donor and community relations at Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights. Prior to joining Howard Brown, Cook was executive director of Interfaith House, and has a J.D from the University of Michigan Law School. Joslyn joined Howard Brown in October 2008 and prior to that was senior vice president and CFO for Towers Productions. He is also listed on the center’s Web site as having helped launch Chicago Bride magazine. He has a BFA from Missouri State University, “with additional studies in business strategy and finance as a University of Chicago graduate student-at-large.”
The press release quotes Howard Brown Board Chair Steven Phelps saying, “These administrative changes pertain to an internal personnel matter which do not impact the mission of Howard Brown Health Center.” However, given the seriousness of the news and that it is relatively unusual for both a CEO and a CFO to be put on administrative leave, there are bound to be questions in the community and the larger health care world about the Center’s ongoing mission.
In a related story, LCCP (Lesbian Community Care Project), a project of Howard Brown, announced that Lisa Katona is now the director of the organization and Kristin Keglovitz Baker, who is the physician’s assistant, is adding the title of clinical director. Baker will be working with Katona on programming ideas for women in the community. Both women have previously been with Howard Brown.
Windy City Times is continuing to follow the story about the administrative change at Howard Brown, and will have more updates in the upcoming weeks.