Columbia Association (CA) President and CEO, Ms. Lakey Boyd, issued a statement the evening of January 11th.
"I attended a meeting with the CA Board Chair and Vice Chair on January 6, 2023, along with CA's Director of Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion. I was told the meeting was to discuss actions taken at the January 4, 2023 closed Board meeting. I was provided a hard copy of the Board's plan in the January 6 meeting. After review and reflection of the discussion, and due to the terms of the plan and the timeline, I believe the Board's plan renders me ineffective in being able to carry out my duties as President/CEO as they are detailed in my contract. I have concluded that I have no other choice but to ask the CA Board to transition me out of the Columbia Association. "
Her statement follows a press release issued by CA's Board of Directors on January 6th where they announced they had "presented" Ms. Boyd a plan to improve communications between her and the board. The CA Board's press release was disputed by three of the board's own members - Mr. Andy Stack (Owen Brown), Mr. Bill Santos (Wilde Lake), and Ms. Janet Evans - who felt the press release "did not adequate represent the situation." It also follows months of visible tension between many members of the board and Ms. Boyd, concern from many residents about the leadership of CA and Ms. Boyd's job security, and a refusal from most members of the board of directors to speak candidly on their attitude towards Ms. Boyd's job performance.
Community Views of Ms. Boyd
Ms. Boyd has been admired by both CA's staff and many Columbia resident and this announcement will likely elicit emotional responses from the community. Over the last several months, dozens of residents and multiple staff members have praised Ms. Boyd's performance and asked the board to protect her job security. This announcement demonstrates the board was not responsive to that community input.
This announcement again highlights the board's desire to micromanage Ms. Boyd which has been highlighted in The Merriweather Post for several months. If "the plan" renders' Ms. Boyd ineffective in her duties as CA President, the plan must include onerous requirements and prescriptive operational directives for Ms. Boyd to follow. This level of detail would fall outside the generally accepted role of a corporate board of directors and further demonstrate that a majority of the board of directors do not understand their role.
The Merriweather Post asked CA Board Chair, Mr. Eric Greenberg for a copy of the plan but he declined to share it.
Possible Violation of Maryland Law
The probable level of detail dictating CA Operations in "the plan" further calls into question the board's decision to develop it behind closed doors and refuse to make it public. As an HOA, CA is required by Maryland Law to operate with transparency in all its activities unless they meet a narrow set of criteria. It seems implausible that a plan that would prevent CA's President from effectively executing her duties (or even perceiving that she might be unable to) would fit within that narrow criteria.
Ms. Boyd's Next Steps
The announcement makes clear that there would be no further comment on this statement from Ms. Boyd or the organization at this time.
While the statement itself does not mention potential next steps (beyond asking to be transitioned out of CA), it does suggest a few possibilities.
Ms. Boyd's announcement is not a resignation but expresses a desire to work with the Board to transition Ms. Boyd out of the organization. It leaves open the possibility that, if the Board reverses course, Ms. Boyd may continue in her role.
The phrasing of Ms. Boyd's statement also leaves open the possibility of legal action on her behalf. If the Board gave her a "plan" that rendered her unable to effectively carry out her contractual duties, she may have a legal case against the Board of Directors and CA.
It is unknown if Ms. Boyd has specific career plans for her future. Ms. Boyd relocated her family from Alabama to Columbia to take this position less than two years ago.
Failure of the Board of Directors
This announcement amounts to a massive failure by the Board of Directors. They hired Ms. Boyd only 19 months ago and, despite Ms. Boyd' admiration throughout large parts of the community and CA's staff, they are effectively forcing her out the door. The board has never explicitly addressed their issues with Ms. Boyd forcing the community to speculate. The Merriweather Post previously reported that the tension was largely caused by the Board's failure to understand their role, their desire to micromanage Ms. Boyd, and the board's ego. The board has also failed to effectively communicate with the community on the issue dismissing concerns about Ms. Boyd's job security as "rumors." Most members of the board will likely claim Ms. Boyd is leaving voluntarily but this would be disingenuous: it is clearly the board's actions forcing Ms. Boyd to reach this decision. One of the Board's key roles is to recruit and retain effective leaders for CA - they have clearly failed in this regard and the circumstances around Ms. Boyd's likely departure will likely make recruiting a qualified replacement more difficult.
The Merriweather Post has contacted each member of the board of directors for comment but did not immediately hear back. We will provide updates with any responses.
The Board of Directors holds a work session on January 12th at 7:00. Residents who wish to speak out during the resident's speak out portion were required to sign up by 5:00 PM on the 11th. It seems likely this residents speak out will be heated.
Local leaders have also started petitions to recall five of the CA Board members most opposed to Ms. Boyd.
If residents are concerned their HOA is violating the law - as CA may be violating the law by holding unannounced closed meetings and withholding details on CA's operations from the public - they can file a complaint with the Maryland Attorney General here: https://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/CPD/Complaint.aspx.
About the author: Michael Golibersuch is a Columbia resident and believes increased awareness of CA Board Meetings can benefit the community. He appreciates the time all CA board members spend volunteering on behalf of a community they love. It brings him no pleasure to publicly highlight anyone’s shortcomings; however, he believes his neighbors deserve to know whether their representatives are effectively serving them. He does not believe that being a poor board member reflects poorly on an individual’s character and he encourages everyone to be kind to all their neighbors. His participation in this effort does not indicate he agrees with all opinions expressed in The Merriweather Post.