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San Diego YMCA Board Authorizes Probe Into Mismanagement Allegations Against CEO

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

A sign is shown in front of the Magdalena Ecke YMCA in Encinitas, May 2015.

The investigation comes several months after two Encinitas board members were ousted following their complaints to the corporate board about San Diego County YMCA President and Chief Executive Officer Baron Herdelin-Doherty.

An investigation is underway into allegations of mismanagement against the head of the YMCA of San Diego County.

Accusations have been circulating for months that San Diego County YMCA President and CEO Baron Herdelin-Doherty had inflated membership and revenue figures.

Sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the corporate board ordered a probe of those allegations as well as complaints about poor treatment of staff.

Corporate board members did not respond to requests for comment. In an email, San Diego County YMCA spokeswoman Charmaine Gudgeon wrote:

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Baron Herdelin-Doherty, chief executive officer of the YMCA of San Diego County, talks about the Y's programs and memberships, December 2014.

“There have been concerns raised about the management of YMCA of San Diego County. In the interest of transparency, the YMCA of San Diego County corporate board is working with a third-party auditor,” Gudgeon wrote. “Our goal, as it has always been, is to make the greatest possible impact on the lives of all people and on the future health of families in the San Diego Community.”

The corporate board’s decision to hire an independent investigator comes several months after two Encinitas YMCA board members – Lizbeth Ecke and Bob Ayers – sent a letter to the corporate board outlining complaints. Chief among them was concern about the elimination of a youth program that gave discounted memberships to children under 13.

The two also alleged that money from the YMCA branches was being re-directed to headquarters and that the organization lacked a strategic plan and “fiscally sound” financial analysis and projections.

In a message to YMCA members in June, Herdelin-Doherty denied any money raised at local branches of the YMCA gets redirected to headquarters. Eliminating youth discount memberships and thus requiring more costly family memberships was a positive, according to Herdelin-Doherty, because it supports the YMCA commitment to encourage families to spend more time together.

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Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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