, 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.