The embattled executive of the Columbia Association said Wednesday that she asked the nonprofit’s board of directors to transition her out of the group, stating that a plan crafted by the board would render her position “ineffective.”
“I have concluded that I have no other choice but to ask the CA Board to transition me out of the Columbia Association,” said Lakey Boyd, the president and CEO of the Columbia Association, in a statement.
Boyd’s request for a release from the group, which serves as the de facto governing body of Columbia, comes after months of speculation about her job security. On Jan. 6, the board of directors issued its first statement on the matter, citing “numerous false rumors and speculations” about Boyd’s employment status.
“The truth is that the Board of Directors seeks to improve the relationship and communications between Ms. Boyd and the Board, and has presented a plan to Ms. Boyd to accomplish that goal,” the board said in the statement.
Earlier last week, several community leaders held a rally in support of Boyd, threatening legal action against the board and encouraging residents to recall members.
In her Wednesday evening statement, Boyd said she was presented the plan during a Jan. 6 meeting, which she said was called to discuss actions from a closed Jan. 4 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,” she said.
The Columbia Association functions as a homeowners association for the city of more than 104,000 and manages a budget of $70 million as well as numerous community amenities, from pools to jogging trails.
The tension between the board and Boyd appeared to stem from her desire to embrace change at the association, which typically sees voter turnout only in the hundreds in the races to pick its 10-member board of directors.
“We know the immense positive impact Lakey has had as president,” said Erika Strauss Chavarria, the executive director of Columbia Community Care, who led a Jan. 2 rally in support of Boyd. She said she was “deeply saddened” by the potential loss of Boyd, who she said has been a “steadfast partner” of community organizations.
Chavarria said the board was “sorely mistaken” in ignoring community groups’ pleas to keep Boyd on as president and CEO.
“I think this is greater motivation that we are going into battle,” said Chavarria, adding that seven Columbia Association board seats are up for election in April.
“This is not over,” she said.
Longtime Columbia resident C. Vernon Gray, Howard County’s first Black council member who served five terms as a Democrat, echoed Chavarria’s concerns on Thursday and called on the board to publicly release the plan that was given to Boyd.
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“It’s a disgrace the way the board has treated her and forced her to respond in this matter,” said Gray, who also spoke at last week’s rally. “It’s clear that this board has not been responsive to the community.”
The board’s chair, Eric Greenberg, who represents the Village of River Hill declined to comment Wednesday night. Dannika Rynes, the association’s senior media relations manager, said Boyd and the organization had no additional comment Thursday afternoon.
The board’s tension with Boyd grew last year when she appealed the board’s negative annual performance review of her work, stating publicly that it contained no actionable items for improvement. The board held a closed meeting in June to discuss “hiring outside counsel to assist the Board with addressing the President/CEO’s appeal of her FY22 performance evaluation,” and later spent more than $40,000 on outside counsel provided by the firm Ballard Spahr and attorney Tim McCormack.
McCormack later informed Boyd during a November meeting she had no standing to appeal her evaluation, which she called the lowest of her 25-year career.
Former CA board member Ashley Vaughan noted last week that buying out the remainder of Boyd’s four-year contract would cost the board $500,000, accusing the current board of wasting the association’s budget in its attempt to oust Boyd. The association is funded by annual fees paid by residential and commercial property owners.
Boyd came on board at the Columbia Association in May 2021, and was hired on a four-year contract.
Baltimore Sun Media reporter Ethan Ehrenhaft contributed to this article.