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May 8, 2023

Girls Inc. puts CEO & COO on leave as programs suspended

PHOTO | Courtesy of Girls Inc. of Worcester Victoria Waterman, CEO of Girls, Inc. of Worcester

The CEO and chief operating officer of Girls Inc. of Worcester have been placed on administrative leave amid the suspension of all programming at the nonprofit, the organization announced Friday.

After school drop-in programs and summer camps are suspended as of Monday, according to a Friday press release from Girls Inc., because “it does not have the staff in place to safely and effectively provide these services.” The organization has been challenged with staffing shortages since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the release.

The Friday announcement didn’t specify the names of the CEO and COO who have been put on leave, but the organization’s website lists Victoria Waterman as CEO and Allison James as COO. Waterman has been the CEO at Girls Inc. since 2012, before which she was president of the board of directors.

Waterman didn’t respond Monday to a phone message left by WBJ. James said she is unable to make a statement. 

In March, Girls Inc. announced Waterman would step down from the role of CEO on June 30.

The board of directors has placed both on administrative leave to conduct an external investigation into concerns raised by employees around workplace equity issues, according to the release.

“We know how vital this organization is to so many girls in this community and do not take this step lightly,” Pamela Daly, board president at Girls Inc. of Worcester, said in the press release. “We must be certain, beyond any doubt, that we can safely operate our programs, and in this instance we did not feel this is the case and thus we are pausing the program until we can get the staffing where it needs to be.”

Wages and benefits will continue for all Girls Inc. employees, according to the release. People who paid for Girls, Inc. services scheduled for Monday or later will be refunded.

The organization has not offered a timeframe for when it anticipates services will resume. 

“We will keep the community updated and informed as to the status of our programs,” said Daly. “We know just how important our programs are in the life of girls in our community and we apologize to them and their families for the disruption.”

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