Forest Hills Trust still leaderless

April 27, 2012
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Over a year after the Forest Hills Educational Trust’s (FHET) last executive director quit, the organization still hasn’t filled the position.

The cemetery and FHET are separate organizations with separate boards of directors. FHET functions like a “friends” group of the cemetery, fundraising and organizing programming that the cemetery must approve.

FHET announced in December 2010 that all programming would be suspended indefinitely, a move that coincided with the last executive director, Cecily Miller, leaving. The rest of the staff was let go at the same time.

FHET Programs Director Jonathan Clark returned last spring, to ensure the annual Lantern Festival happened in July. Arts programs have started to return to the cemetery with a series of poetry readings, walks and a jazz concert.

“I’d really like an executive director,” Clark said. “We didn’t feel like we could hire someone” last year, with the uncertain future of the trust, but “I’m hoping that we’ll move along soon and name somebody,” he said.

In a recent Gazette interview, Forest Hills Cemetery CEO George Milley said he meets regularly with Clark to go over program proposals. That duty would usually fall to the executive director.

The cemetery and FHET are separate nonprofits, though their boards share members. They include Milley, who is also a trustee of FHET, and Kevin George, who is treasurer for both organizations and trustee of FHET. FHET and the cemetery also share offices.

Bob MacLeod did not return a Gazette call.

“[The trust] operates independently,” Milley previously told the Gazette. But, he added, “To some legal extent, we still have some influence and impact on how it’s managed,” due to the cemetery’s status as its ‘settlor’ or founder. “It needs to follow the goals of the cemetery.”

“There’s a lot of things that an executive director would do that I’m just not qualified for,” Clark said. But with programming returning to the cemetery, Clark said he expects FHET to start looking at replacements soon.

The state Attorney General’s Office, which oversees charitable groups, declined to comment about a nonprofit operating without an executive director.

 

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