Pillar stakeholders ask for board’s resignation amid leadership turmoil

A photo of 201 King Street, which is the home of Pillar Nonprofit Network. (Craig Needles, Blackburn Media)

Two months after a sudden firing at a high profile non-profit organization, community stakeholders are asking for change.

An open letter from a meeting of “a group of Pillar Nonprofit Network stakeholders, including members, volunteers, supporters, investors, executive directors, community leaders from all sectors, past board members, and past staff” is asking members of Pillar’s board of directors to resign.

Those who have signed the letter are expressing their concern over the dismissal of President and CEO Mojdeh Cox in July.

“Stakeholders who rely on Pillar to model best practices expressed overwhelmingly the harmful impacts of an inspiring, bold, influential woman of colour being unceremoniously stripped of her leadership role – in front of stunned observers, without thoughtful communication or respect – by an organization committed to shifting inequitable structures and systems,” the letter said.

Multiple sources at Pillar, speaking on condition of anonymity, have confirmed to London News Today that Cox was walked out of the non-profit’s King Street offices by members of the board.

“The Board’s actions since the termination of Mojdeh do not demonstrate thoughtful and strategic decision-making, concern for Pillar team members, regard for the reputation of Pillar, or, above all, compassion for Mojdeh, her family, and the community,” the letter said.

The group wrapped up its letter by asking for the board to be replaced. The letter has more than 40 signatures.

“We believe it is in the best interest of the Pillar Nonprofit Network that you step down from the Board of Directors and work harmoniously to transition to a new interim board,” the letter said.

In a statement sent to London News Today on Friday, the board members wrote:

“Making staffing and leadership changes is never easy. Our goal is to see every member of our team supported and successful. As a board, it is our responsibility to make difficult decisions in the best interest of our organization and the many who rely on it. As one of the most diverse boards in the history of Pillar and the region, we are committed to acting with integrity, professionalism and accountability, as we continue to move forward.”

Meantime, Rachel Berdan, who had been named co-President and co-CEO in the wake of Cox’s departure, is also leaving the organization. Her departure was announced on Thursday, less than two full months after she took on the role.

Pillar Non-Profit “strengthens individuals, organizations and enterprises invested in positive community impact,” according to its website. Its staff works with hundreds of area non-profit organizations, in a variety of capacities.

Cox took over the lead role there in April of 2021. She had previously worked as the national director of anti-racism and human rights with the Canadian Labour Congress.

Just over a week after being fired by Pillar, Cox took to social media to address her dismissal.

Cox called her exit “confusing and disappointing” in her posts.

She could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

A previous version of this story said board chair Mary Alikakos declined comment on Thursday afternoon. The story was updated when the board sent out their statement.