One month after a controversy that led to the resignation of five volunteer staff members, GeekGirlCon executive director Michele Carrico Domingo has stepped down, GeekWire has learned.
Former GeekGirlCon internal operations director Jeanette Hotes-Aprato has been appointed interim executive director.
The leadership change took place Sept. 7 and was reflected on GeekGirlCon’s public staff page and in an email sent to the con’s donors, sponsors and grantors, GeekGirlCon board member Sharon Feliciano told GeekWire.
The change was not announced on the organization’s blog, social media channels or attendee mailing list.
It comes just a few weeks before the nonprofit’s annual GeekGirlCon convention, which will take place Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 in Seattle. Feliciano said the leadership change will not have any impact on the event and pointed out that Hotes-Aprato had been in a top leadership role even before the change.
Carrico Domingo was thrust into a controversy in early August when five volunteer staff members responsible for convention operations resigned, hijacking the organization’s mailing list and website to air claims including alleged discrimination against a male volunteer and alleged mishandling of organization funds.
The allegations prompted a dramatic response from the con’s fans and the broader geek community, touching off debates over racial and gender tensions and discrimination.
The organization and its board stood by Carrico Domingo and said the departed staff members’ claims had already been examined and dismissed by the board. It doubled down on its support of Carrico Domingo in an email to media Aug. 26, saying the board had “completely cleared” Carrico Domingo of all the allegations made by the departing members.
In an email to GeekWire, Feliciano said Carrico Domingo decided to step down to follow other opportunities and that the process had been amicable and professional. Carrico Domingo was the organization’s first full-time, paid executive director — the organization’s board and all other staff members are volunteers that put hundreds of hours of work into the convention each year.
The organization put out a call for applications for new board members on September 10.
Feliciano said Hotes-Aprato was chosen as interim director based on her past work with the con and Carrico Domingo’s recommendation. She holds a masters degree in global management and a certificate in nonprofit management and has served as the managing director for Seattle’s Center for Positive Sex Culture for the past three years.
“As the Director of Internal Operations, Ms. Hotes-Aprato has been instrumental in creating a robust fundraising strategy, as well as accounting standards to ensure long-term sustainability and continuity,” said I-Wei Feng, GeekGirlCon board president, in an announcement sent the organization’s backers. “Furthermore, Jeanette has taken the reins for convention preparations to keep our momentum so that we can put on a great convention. As the Interim Executive Director, she has the confidence and trust of our volunteer staff and the Board of Directors, as we continue to serve our community together.”
“Jeanette is a wonderful choice as the Interim Executive Director and she has been a pleasure to work with these past few months,” Carrico Domingo said in the announcement. “I’m confident that with Jeanette’s enthusiastic and wonderful non-profit management experience that GeekGirlCon will be in great hands.”