I must comment on the article concerning the lawsuit brought against individual members of the board and Mobile Ballet Inc. While not a plaintiff, I am both a former longtime employee and former Mobile Ballet board member, and agree with the efforts of the plaintiffs (at the time of the suit, two board members and a former board member).
It must be noted that the portion of the suit against individual board members and the development director of Mobile Ballet was dismissed solely because the judge decided that the plaintiffs did not have standing to bring the suit — not because the concerns raised in the suit did not have merit. Details of the lawsuit can be found online, for those who are interested.
Two other board members and I resigned in late April of this year, with another like-minded member rotating off shortly thereafter. It was a painful and most difficult decision, as my family and I had spent nearly 30 years involved with the organization in various capacities. Our two daughters were longtime students and company members under Winthrop Corey. My husband voiced introductions for Mobile Ballet performances and emceed the Nutcracker Charity Ball. I co-chaired the ball its first six years, was president of the volunteer organization and was the first development director.
For the last five years, I served as a member of the board. Having been trained in both development and nonprofit board practices, and having served as president of another local organization, I could no longer give assent to the decisions and actions of the majority of the board.
I am appalled at the spurious and patently untrue allegations made about Pamela Thompson, a highly respected and beloved icon at Mobile Ballet for many years. She and Ray Thompson are two of the finest people I know, and the accusation that the suit was brought to benefit her and the new Classical Ballet of Mobile is as ugly and false a statement as I have ever heard.
The truth — easily confirmed by parents of former Mobile Ballet students — is that many parents could no longer countenance the actions of Mobile Ballet. Classical Ballet of Mobile emerged out of their desire for their children to enjoy ballet training in a positive, nurturing, principled atmosphere. CBM originated with the parents themselves, and not Mrs. Thompson, who was wary of taking on such an enormous task. Numerous student registrations and significant donations have affirmed the decision to form the school.
The lessons learned as a result of this unpleasant situation, as I see it, should be thus: Discern and follow a planning process involving your stakeholders, be inclusive in decision-making and, above all, treat employees — especially long time employees — with the respect due their long tenure.
Marie S. Grip
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