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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Howard Brown board set for changes
2010-12-08

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Howard Brown Health Center announced that its board of directors will make changes in the near future to address concerns about oversight of the non-profit health center. This will include an entirely new board in place by the middle of 2011. The plans were announced Dec. 6 in a press release.

The center's board of directors announced a "Responsible Transition" component of its plan. This plan is intended to renew and refresh its membership, increase its ties to the community, and ensure long-term stability of Howard Brown and its services to the community, according to the press announcement.

The board also renewed its prior call for interested members of the community who have the capacity, time, and love for Howard Brown's mission to apply to join its board.

To give Howard Brown a complete "fresh start," its CEO Jamal Edwards and board, working together, have agreed upon a "Responsible Transition" plan to transition the oversight of the organization from the current Board to new members of the community.

The first phase of the plan will see the executive committee of the board (elected in June 2010) and four additional board members resign effective Dec. 31, 2010. The plan does not contemplate resignations by two board members who joined the board this past summer; they will remain on the board.

This first phase will reduce the board by about half of its members, but will leave Howard Brown with enough board members to satisfy various funding or grant requirements, including its critical Federally Qualified Health Center application, and enough to ensure a responsible transition.

The remaining transition board members will continue efforts, in partnership with the community, to recruit and seat new board members. Once the new board is up and running, the transition board members will resign, with a goal of having an entirely new board in place by the start of the next fiscal year, July 1, 2011.

With this plan, the board aims to increase confidence in and community ties to Howard Brown Health Center, while ensuring the transition occurs responsibly and in the best interests of the organization.

"Throughout the difficult past year, the board's sole interest has been to stabilize the organization, make necessary changes and take appropriate actions in response to the challenges facing the organization," said outgoing Board Chair Mark Andrews. He said the board and president/CEO Jamal Edwards agree that this next step in the plan should go a long way toward achieving the goal of ensuring that Howard Brown continues to excel in its mission while strengthening both its connections to the community and the confidence of its stakeholders.

"This board has demonstrated incredible commitment of time, talent, and treasure, over the past difficult year, which may not be fully known in the community," said Andrews. "This decision to implement a Responsible Transition plan shows courage and demonstrates again the board's commitment to putting the interests of Howard Brown first and foremost. It shows decisive action, while ensuring Howard Brown has what it needs as it continues its rebuilding."

Edwards, who was appointed by the existing Board in June of this year, fully supports the plan. "I support the Responsible Transition plan agreed to by the board, and I think it shows this truly is a 'new day' at Howard Brown Health Center. I am grateful for all that the board has done over this past year," he said.

Both Andrews and Edwards said Howard Brown gratefully acknowledges the outpouring of support received from the community in response to the Lifeline Appeal, and during its period of renewal. The Lifeline Appeal funds will help ensure that Howard Brown can continue providing services to more than 36,000 people annually. To donate to Howard Brown's Lifeline appeal, please visit www.HowardBrown.org/lifeline or call 773-388-1600.


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