JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Clara White Mission CEO Ju’Coby Pittman took to the podium on Sunday to address the nonprofit’s recent resignations.
On Friday, five executive board members resigned from the nonprofit over hiring issues and COVID-19 concerns at the homeless shelter.
In emails obtained by Action News Jax, Pittman was accused of refusing to hire a chief operating officer and an alleged lack of transparency during a COVID-19 outbreak, which included the death of chef Keith Smith.
Pittman, who was recently hospitalized with COVID-19, defended herself before the Clara White Mission Board Attorney, saying that allegations made against her are false and damaging to the Clara White Mission.
“It’s slanderous to me, the board of directors. It’s hurtful, and it’s damaging to our financial support,” she said.
Action News Jax’s Ben Ryan asked Pittman, “is it more helpful or hurtful if you resign? Are you able to answer that in your own words?” Pittman replied, “No, I can’t.”
It was the board’s chair, Diana Mason, who answered the question.
“She is very capable, and she should be here,” Mason said. “She has been here for 28 years and been very effective. She’s the one that used this mission and worked here and went from a budget of $200,000 to $3 million. So that question — the answer is yes.”
Though the emails alleged there are several issues, Pittman said at the podium the Clara White Mission remains strong and will continue to serve the community.
The resignation letter from the board that Acton News Jax obtained also claimed Pittman said she wanted a chief operating officer that “looked like her.”
“I wasn’t in the meeting. But from my understanding, Ms. Pittman was looking for someone that had similar charisma and community presence that she has,” Michelle Barnett, the Clara White Mission Board attorney, said.
Pittman said at the podium there are no smoking mirrors at the Clara White Mission, and it will always stand up for those who don’t have a voice.
She said those who know her feel that if she was out of the hospital, this would not have happened.
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