Summer Reese, 40, was fired by the non-profit foundation's
board in an 11-7 vote on March 13 and locked out of the
headquarters in Berkeley, California, both sides said.
After cutting the padlock to get into the building, Reese has
hunkered down for nine days with a team of supporters in the
headquarters of Pacifica Foundation Radio, which oversees a
five-station radio network serving New York, Los Angeles,
Berkeley, Houston and Washington, D.C.
At least on a day-to-day level, Reese still claims to be running
"This has shaken everybody up," Reese said, from behind her
desk. "I'm being asked to follow the illegal actions of a rogue
She and her team have equipped themselves for their working
sit-in, which Reese said involves around-the-clock shifts, with
an inflatable air mattress leaning against a cubical wall and
takeout food boxes plopped around the offices.
Reese argued she was not given a reason for being fired and that
the move violated her contract, which required her to be
terminated for cause.
After chairing the Pacifica national board for two years and
working as both the chair and interim executive director for a
year, Reese signed a contract in January to permanently take on
the organization's top role. The agreement guaranteed her
$315,000 over three years, according to a copy of the contract.
She said the board likely ousted her because she was demanding
greater financial accountability.
Board Chair Margy Wilkinson agreed the organization has
struggled financially but denied Reese's allegations. Wilkinson
said she was prohibited from providing further details about
Reese's dismissal, citing employee privacy rules.
"I think her response since she has been terminated totally
validates the decision to terminate her," she said. "I think the
board took an action that was appropriate and necessary."
The board is looking at legal options, Wilkinson added.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker)
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