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Julie Seal's Resignation a Chance to 'Turn the Page,' Says New Board Co-Chair

William Anderson, the newest member of the Board of Directors at the Healdsburg Animal Shelter and its new co-chair, and outgoing chair Kathleen McCaffery discuss the surprise resignation.

, the executive director of the for little over a year, resigned her position suddenly on Monday.

While there has been no official statement from the shelter’s Board of Directors, both outgoing chair and new board co-chair Bill Anderson took pains to express their gratitude to her effort and accomplishments in an interview with Patch.

“I do want to say she was really a great contributor to helping us to fulfill the mission of the shelter,” said Anderson.

“Anybody who triples the number of animals that come out of the shelter into a home, it’s just amazing, it’s just wonderful,” echoed McCaffrey. “She, with her staff, did that, and that’s just amazing.”

Seal herself was not available for comment, though details about conditions of her departure remain unclear.

When pressed for a fuller explanation, Anderson said, “it wouldn’t be proper to comment on a personnel issue, but we’ve had a series of discussions with her over the last week or so, and I think had frank discussions about the past, and what’s happened.

“I think it’s taken its toll on some of the board members, it’s taken its toll on Julie, and I think she felt it was in her best interest to look at future opportunities.”

Seal's tenure was marked by controversy, especially in the past few months when a over the Mastiff pitbull mix named Cash.  The was another area of concern, as was at the end of her six-month probationary period in October 2011, to $90,000.

Seven members of the Shelter’s board of directors resigned last year, adding to the tension at the non-profit facility. However, Seal’s record in tripling the number of adoptions and decreasing costs through streamlining and partnerships with Sonoma County Animal Care and Control were her pay grade.

According to , her supporters on the board included McCaffery, Sandra Versteegh, Kim Lloyd and Sandy Walheim, who “strongly defended Seal's performance and her salary.”

All of them remain on the board at this time, with the single addition of Anderson, a Healdsburg resident for six years who is an executive of global hospitality management companies.

Anderson and Versteegh will share the responsibilities as board co-chairs, as McCaffery will relinquish the position she’s held for six years.

There is at least one and possibly two additional board member candidates under consideration, and according to Anderson and McCaffery, the search for a new executive director begins  “immediately.”

“One thing that I hope we can refocus the community on,” said Anderson, “statistically, if you look at that shelter, it is operating at a standard that is among the very best in the country. Not the county, not the state, in the country. And we as a community ought to be very proud of that. And that is completely attributable to the really wonderful staff and volunteers that we have.

“And Julie has been a big part of that… On the one hand, as I said, we’re very sorry to see her go and on the other hand we’re kind of excited about the future and turning the page and having a fresh start.”

The meeting with McCaffery and Anderson took place in the new Animal Shelter facility nearing completion on Westside Road. Additional information on the structure, and future plans of the board of directors will be forthcoming.

Lisa Hadley March 14, 2012 at 05:10 PM
GOOD NEWS! Moving forward, now Kathleen, Kim, Sandy, and Saundra should make a public apology to George Dutton (as it is apparent that neither could they work with Julie - the reason they removed George as Project Mgr/Treaurer), then follow the lead of TRUE LEADERS WITH MORAL BACKBONE and resign from the board to show that they truly have the best interest of the animals of Healdsburg and HAS at heart. This will allow Bill Anderson the chance to rebuild the trust of the Community through a fresh start. So much damage was done under the current Board’s tenure. The Community should thank them for trying and then thank them for leaving. Time to start anew and follow the mission statement of the HEALDSBURG Animal Shelter.
Bob Brady March 14, 2012 at 06:19 PM
John Lloyd I would imagine it's hard for both you and Mrs.. Lloyd to realize that you've been duped. I am sorry for your pain but wish you had noticed all the red herrings which were pointed out to both you and your wife time and time again. The alarm bells were ringing and you chose to ignore them. Lannie, your cheerleading routine for the Lloyd's is rather odd, curious and incongruous to the subject at hand, and your enthusiastic defense of them (when no one was insulting them) makes me think it's a case of "me thinks thou protest too much." In-the-know, you are correct which leads one to believe that Ms. Seals was fired because there is no way that she would walk away from that kind of money. This means there is a smoking gun here. And Lisa Hadlley? I second that motion (wild applause).
Joyce Reynolds March 14, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I certainly hope all of the design flaws of new building will be rectified...also that the new director will equal/exceed the excellent adoption rates. Now finish this bloody structure and get the poor dogs some shelter from this deluge through the non existent roof!
Bob Brady March 14, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Here, here Joyce! And let's hope the new ED does not have to cross city lines in order to obtain what he/she views as a more adoptable species and focuses on the dogs who inhabit HAS. Let us also hope for a new board who will thoroughly investigate the ED candidates by conducting background checks. Isn't it a bit ironic that the departed ED and the board members mandated a background check for their volunteers but not for their ED?
In the Know March 14, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Lisa- Do you know where Bob Anderson came from and who he is? How did he become co-chair of the board? He just seems to have popped into the picture out of nowhere!
Bob Brady March 14, 2012 at 10:08 PM
With all due respect Mr.Eddinger, you seem to be on the first chapter while the rest of us are closing in on the final chapter of this mess. The rumors have been validated and substantiated with the subsequent firing (or forced resignation of Ms. Seals). On a brighter note, please read Mr. Santucci's article in this issue of the Patch in which he astutely notes that the new shelter is nearly completed, and it has been for well over a year. It's almost as if it someone were stalling on purpose. Now I ask you, who would do that and what would be in it for that person? So let's look forward to moving the animals to their new and beautiful spacious location and to the careful and methodic selection of a qualified ED and replacing the board with new and fresh faces in order to orchestrate the moving of the animals into their new shelter.
Jean H March 15, 2012 at 06:02 AM
Oh my! Such a cat fight at "The Healdsburg Animal Shelter"!
GMS March 16, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Any new ED is going to have a very tough time matching the incredibly good adoption record that Julie Seal has had while at the Animal Shelter. Animals that had been languishing there for months and even years were adopted and found good homes. She worked tirelessly for the animals and her energy and spirit will be sorely missed. No ED in recent years has come anywhere near her adoption record. Is everyone aware that the raise in her salary, after 6 months probation, was agreed to by the entire Board at the time she was hired. It seems to me that a lot of people have lost sight of the fact that the most important thing is what is best for the animals. And Julie Seal was certainly that. Good luck on finding someone who can match her record for finding homes for the shelter animals. Isn't that more important than anything?
In the Know March 16, 2012 at 05:36 AM
GMS- Obviously you need a Reality Check: http://www.sonomawest.com/the_healdsburg_tribune/opinion/editorials/reality-check/article_693db496-6e35-11e1-a4b1-0019bb2963f4.html?fb_ref=.T2J0KysyyEc.like&fb_source=profile_oneline
Christian Kallen March 16, 2012 at 04:03 PM
In the Know's link goes to an online article on the Healdsburg Tribute that requires a subscription to read. Anybody care to summarize?
Sally Struthers March 16, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Your facts are horrifically erroneous. Ms. Seals recruited what she perceived as more adoptable dogs from other shelters in order to boast the appearance of adoption rates having been boasted while either ignoring the dogs in her own shelter or putting them to cash (Remember Cash? He would not be alive now if not for the efforts of Chef Keane, King's Kastle and so many other people who fought for his life--last I heard, this beloved gentle giant was doing great). Moreover, the entire board most certainly did NOT agree on her raise--why do you think so many board members dropped like flies after her raise? The remaining four members agreed to the raise while others, like board treasurer George Dutton, voiced concern about about granting such a hefty raise to an ED who had not raised one cent toward fundraising. Board members who expressed concern about MS. Seals' job performance, were met with Ms McCaffrey's wrath because she harborrf a curious ardent and stubborn devotion to Ms. Seals. Board members who dared to voice even the slightest criticism of Ms. Seals were forced to resign. This is why we only have four board members left (the bylaws state that the board shall never consist of less than five board members). And here's food for thought--these four board members were devoted to MS. Seals, and yet they fired her. What on earth did she do to warrant this firing from a board which blindly worships her? I shudder at the thought.
Sally Struthers March 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I believe that In-the-Know is referring to a commentary located in the Opinion section of The Headsburg Tribune. The Tribune offers a free trial subscription to its online newspaper and it's easy to subscribe,t and there is no pressure to subscribe thereafter. Okay, now I sound like a commercial. It's difficult to summarize what this former HAS volunteer wrote as it encompassed so much. Basically the writer outlines Julie Seals' history with HAS and offers meticulous and objectively stated detail to support her assertions. Suffice to say, when reading it, the reader will not ask why Julie Seals was let go, but what took so long? This situation was allowed to fester way too long while the almost finished shelter just sat there empty and while the animals across the street sat there in a miserable setting. Clearly, Ms Seals' first priority was not the animals, but her own well being. I must say that she did an excellent job of taking care of herself and the four remaining board members did an excellent job of taking care of Ms Seals as well. But what about the animals? It seems the only ones taking care of them were the loyal employees and the devoted volunteers who were ordered not to speak to the press and to subject themselves to background checks. (interesting that the ED refused to allow a background check on herself). In any case, read the commentary called "Reality Check" to better understand this very complicated situation.
Margaret March 16, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I am overwhelmingly saddened to hear of Julie, Ryan & Penny's departures, all those sad, neglected animals that won’t be cared for and adopted in the future. The animal shelter board has lead the media and community to believe ALL the past problems at the shelter were somehow caused by Julie. Not everyone is perfect and I am sure Julie did rub some people the wrong way (don’t we all?), but she was an amazing, talented ED and Healdsburg was lucky to find someone with the passion, experience and skills to take the shelter to a new and professional level. Someone had to take the fall for all the bad press and lawyer-driven secrecy and unfortunately the easy target was Julie. This past month Julie secured a large donation of $100,000! Many have lost all confidence in the current board to tell the truth and have integrity.
Margaret March 16, 2012 at 10:37 PM
There is a lot going on behind the scenes with this board, way too many secrets, closed meetings and lawyers advice. The latest board oddity is where did Bill Anderson appear from? I have attended all the public meetings, toured the new shelter and have never heard his name and now he is co-president and media spokesperson? All the very important financial audits and recommendations for what needs to be done to complete the new shelter from a well respected shelter architect (who donated his time) have still not been made public.
Margaret March 16, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I believe Julie was forced out and I believe she would gladly take the job back, as would Ryan and Penny if we come together as a community and DEMAND all the current board members resign immediately. We need a board who cares more about the animals and less about power, politics, egos, secrets and covering up the past problems. I have read many things on these message boards that are rumors and fiction, if you are truly interested in helping the shelter move forward, go see the new shelter with your own eyes, don't believe what someone else has written, it is, sadly no where near completion. And most of all don't believe most of what you read in the media, especially if it comes out of the mouths of the current board members. And most of all attend the City Council meeting on April 2, where the board will be present to answer questions, unless their lawyer continues to tell them to take the 5th....
Sally Struthers March 16, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Margaret, I agree with you about the board, and yes, they should apologize to the donors and for hiring Julie Seals in the first place without vetting her If they had and learned about her disturbing work history, she would never had been hired. She refused a full background check, and the board, charmed by her charisma, foolishly hired her without a thorough check. The secrecy and gag orders imposed on their own volunteers came from Julie and the board. The main problem with the board is that they not only turned a blind eye to Julie's unethical dealings, they enabled her. Julie is not an innocent here but neither is the board. And again, I ask you to consider this--Bored president McCaffrey, and the other three board members worshiped the ground she walked on, and pity the person who ever questioned Ms. Seals motives. If they did, they were out. This same board fired her--they must have discovered something pretty incriminating but they can't speak about it due to legalities. Please don't put Julie on a cross, she is no Joan of Arc.
Sally Struthers March 17, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Margaret, again I agree with you---people should go see the new shelter. But the progress on that building occurred BEFORE Julie's arrival and in spite of her subsequent efforts to slow down its completion. The folks responsible for the funds who made that possible are no longer on the board--forced out by the ED and the board. George Dutton, former board treasurer, who was forced out by the board per Ms. Seals' demands, is largely responsible for the near completion of the shelter. Julie has not raised a cent toward fundraising--that is a fact And she claims that was never part of her job description. At the same time she claims credit for an 80,000 surplus which was really the result of a fundraiser others threw at Fred McMurray's ranch. She can't have it both ways. To compound problems, and as a result of Julie's refusal to fundraise, HAS was forced to hire a fundraiser which cost HAS 60,000--monies which should have gone to the shelter's completion went to a fundraiser instead. Moreover, her insisting on a salary of $120,000 slowed down the completion of the shelter. For a reality check did you know that our own police chief makes only ten thousand dollars more? Check out the commentary entitled "Reality Check" in the current issue of the Healdsburg Tribune if you want to learn more about this. Your heart is in the right place, and you are right to want to hold the board accountable for this unmitigated disaster, but your facts are not quite right.
Lisa Hadley March 17, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Margaret, Ryan too bad. You apparently are one too who has not taken the time to hear from Rescue in AZ, the org Julie claims to have obtained all her "fundraising experience". They apparently do not agree. Have you contacted Sonoma Humane Society or Annova? Both former employers & both whom she declined to allow a back ground check. Why? Were you at the shelter when the 8 wk old pit puppy was placed in a back kennel all by itself - denied experienced fostering? Were you at the shelter when the 6 mo old Rottweiler puppy was placed with an elderly woman? Were you at the shelter when that same Rottweiler puppy was denied behavioral help and was euthanized? Was it's tail wagging? Were you at the last public board meeting when the person who had the dog in their yard disagreed with Julie's perception of the dog? Were you at the shelter when a deaf dog was placed on a ranch where they had explicitly said a deaf dog would be injured by their horses? Who were told the dog is not deaf; then a vet said of course it is...when returned were told that their adoption fee could not be placed with another dog - too bad...Did you talk with the owners of Cash, the dog which created such an uproar in Healdsburg, who stated that they never told Julie what she said? Were you at the shelter when donors were told their donations would go for the new shelter & then did not? It is an understatement that not everyone is perfect...$60K of the $100 went for fundraising? Someone has been duped.
Lisa Hadley March 17, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I agree. We need a totally new board and go to the April 2nd City Council meeting. But we don't need to go backwards and bring back what created such upheaval and distrust to begin with. New Board, New ED (I beg to differ with you on this one and I believe so do the dogs of Healdsburg), new beginnings. New help for the Healdsburg Animals! As far as Penny, what what I have heard, she is good, but I am concerned that she neglected to realize what was going on right under her nose; as I would suspect so do some high profile donors wonder why their $s did not go to the new shelter. So I vote for a totally new beginning. And why not for the animals? It's not for anyone on the board, it's not for Julie, nor Penny, nor unfortunately Ryan. Damn it it is for the animals! And yes go to the new shelter. And TAKE A LOOK AT THE PLANS that were developed over several years with the support of the ENTIRE BOARD, OTHER SHELTERS, AND THE STAFF! Make sure you all understand that what has been said about the deficiencies of the new shelter are in fact true! Maybe they are not? Are you aware that some complaints revolve around unfinished items, not items unplanned? It is so easy when one does not understand...and when someone else is so eloquent to the contrary. Demand to see what has been done. Demand to see what has been spent - in detail. Demand to see how close they were. Then once you educate yourselves with the facts make your judgement calls. Don't let them dazzle you with what ifs...
In the Know March 17, 2012 at 03:46 AM
"This past month Julie secured a large donation of $100,000!" I had not heard of this? Can you clarify your statement?
In the Know March 17, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Seven members of the Shelter’s board of directors resigned last year, adding to the tension at the non-profit facility. And Kathleen, Kim, Sandy, and Saundra were in agreement with wanting Seal as ED and approved of her raise then all of a sudden it's rumored that she was fired? Now McCaffery has chosen a new person (Bill Anderson) that's come out of the blue as the co-chair and now just as Seal is fired, McCaffery is stepping down as president of the BofD? Something really stinks badly here - what is going on that no one can tell anyone what really happened over there?? Where's the promised public clarity? I think the REAL loss over at the HAS is the loss of George Dutton as Project Manager and Board Treasurer. All hell broke loose when he left - JMO
Sally Struthers March 17, 2012 at 04:42 AM
I concur with both Ms. Hadley and Mr or Ms. In-the-know.
In the Know March 17, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Correction: George Dutton and his wife, Karen Dutton
aubrey crothers March 17, 2012 at 05:44 PM
The only good page that needs to get turned is removing you people from the board. I know julie and also Ryan , very well and you have lost 2 amazing people that were working toward the solution. You can keep trying to replace these people as you have done and the public after much time will finally realize that it is the board that is the real problem. EGO central. get over yourself and get the real work done. If you put your money where your mouth was the job would be finished. and you would have someone working in the actual aniimal shelter 2 weeks from now.
Sarah McLaughlin March 18, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Abrey, I and so many others agree with you that the four board members need to be removed to start anew. But getting rid of Julie Seals was perhaps the only decision these four ever made which was right. Please study her work history, not just with HAS, but with her prior employers--employers with whom she would not allow the board to conduct a background check--she was not properly vetted. You say you know Julie, but I suggest you only know her on some superficial level. Moreover, putting her in the same camp as Ryan is a mistake. The remaining four board members are not good, you're right. But their lack of goodness does not equate to Julie being good--this is not a black and white issue here. The HAS organization was disabled when Julie appeared on their shores. They were hungry for some semblance of control and frantically bought her dog and pony show. They reaped their Karma and so did she as they each slowly cannibalized each other. If you ever start to doubt this, then check in with Cash the dog. If Julie had her way, Cash would be in the arms of an angel and not in the arms of Chef Keane, and Kings Kastle--please chose your idols more carefully. I hear the devil has a killer smile and a charismatic personal too. This is not the time to be a black and white thinker.
Sarah McLaughlin March 18, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Margaret, please read Lisa Hadley's comments above which offer compelling evidence as to why Julie was a horrific choice as the HAS ED. Now, that she is gone, it is time to go after her personal hench women. The very fact that they are not willfully stepping down for the greater good of HAS speaks volumes about where their priorities lay--it's about their egos, not the animals. Shame on them.
Sarah McLaughlin March 18, 2012 at 05:27 PM
well, that was a helpful comment Jean......not.
Sarah McLaughlin March 18, 2012 at 05:29 PM
that should be lie, not lay--sorry!
Sarah McLaughlin March 18, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Ms. Seals was hired with the stipulation that fundraising was an important aspect of her job. She later claimed it was not part of her job and therefore, other people, including former board members (not to be confused with the preexisting ones) took it upon themselves to fundraise. Because of Julie's inability or refusal to fundraiser, HAS was forced to hire a fundraiser which cost them sixty thousand dollars. This is the person who raised 100,000, not Ms. Seals. Subtract the $60,000 from the $100,00 and you get $40,000. Again, this fund was not raised by Ms Seals.
Christian Kallen March 19, 2012 at 01:05 AM
We appreciate all your comments and the degree of passion Healdsburg brings to this topic, but we think it's time to close comments on this story. According to the terms of use, "Patch believes in transparency, and we ask that all your registration information be truthful. You may not use any aliases or other means to mask your true identity." It's pretty clear these terms are not being following, which gives readers the sense of being in an echo chamber with redundancy becoming ever more granular. The arguments and counter-arguments have been laid out in full, it seems; let's wait for the next development in this story to advance the discussion. Thank you. - Christian Kallen, Guest Editor, Healdsburg Patch

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