April 9, 2014 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Alston Foundation staffer spent funds for ‘personal use’
Brian Watson, Wanda Alston House, gay news, Washington Blade

Brian Watson at the Wanda Alston House. (Washington Blade file photo by Henry Linser)

The Wanda Alston Foundation, which operates D.C.’s Alston House for homeless LGBT youth, released a statement on Tuesday disclosing that a former staff member resigned after admitting to spending some of the organization’s funds for personal use.

“The Wanda Alston Foundation has recently discovered that some of its funds were spent by a former staff member for personal use,” the statement says. “Once the funds were discovered missing, the staff member immediately resigned and has agreed to a repayment plan,” the statement says.

The statement doesn’t identify the former staff member that allegedly used the funds for personal use. But the statement follows an earlier statement released by the Alston Foundation board on March 11 announcing that Brian Watson, the foundation’s founder and executive director, resigned to “pursue other opportunities.”

According to sources familiar with the Alston Foundation, no other staff member has resigned from the organization between the time of Watson’s resignation and the date when the latest statement disclosing the misused funds was released on April 8.

“The board of directors has had an external accountant conduct a complete review of all accounts and has determined that no government funds were misused,” the April 8 statement says.

“Additionally, staff and the board have worked together to strengthen internal controls to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, including requiring all disbursements to be made by check, and restricting authority for direct withdrawal of funds,” the statement says.

“The board moved swiftly to address this misuse of funds, and is confident that the strict financial controls that have been instituted in its wake will prevent any future issue of this type,” it says.

At the time it announced Watson’s resignation on March 11, the board also announced it had named Ken Pettigrew, the Alston Foundation’s director of programs, as interim executive director.

Watson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • peter rpsenstein

    I am glad that the current Board of the Wanda Alston foundation seems to be dealing with this swiftly and moving forward. The Wanda Alston House is an important institution and as a community we need to ensure that it continues to thrive.

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