By Andrew Newman
Editor’s note: Andrew Newman sent the following to the media on Thursday. We are publishing his message because it contains some valuable new information, plus the letter he sent to the media.
Dear Media Professionals,
My name is Andrew Newman. I previously provided accounting advisory services for Yolo Food Bank. I was engaged by the former executive director, Michael Bisch. Within days of joining the Food Bank in January 2018, Michael discovered the Food Bank was within 60-90 days of insolvency. He also discovered the Food Bank’s accounting practices were deficient, the financial statements were unreliable and did not meet GAAP standards.
Michael Bisch (Michel) brought me in to assist the inhouse accounting team to correct the deficiencies. My engagement extended on and off for two years or so. I have a relationship with former and current Food Bank staff from my advisory work for the Food Bank.
The Food Bank board’s decision to fire Michael is inexplicable and detrimental to the Food Bank and, more importantly, to the food insecure residents of Yolo County. The board’s rash decision has clearly unleashed a crisis of leadership and trust, and well-founded fear of retribution. This is now the second such crisis that has occurred under this board since 2018.
In the last week, the Food Bank has “lost” six board members, fired numerous executives and reinstated the management team originally in place before they hired Michael. This is the same group that steered the organization to dire financial conditions in 2017. Examples of ths mismanagement are already being reported. For example the law firm that was engaged to investigate employee harassment concerns.
Out of concern for the staff, the Food Bank, and residents struggling with food insecurity, I have publicly offered to publish information and documents sent to me anonymously by current and former Food Bank staff. Although the attached protest resignation is from (a former employee) I did not receive the letter from her. I received the resignation letter from another staff member who requested anonymity.
June 2, 2022
To the Staff and Board of Yolo Food Bank:
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I submit this letter expressing my intent to resign from my position … at Yolo Food Bank (YFB), effective June 17, 2022.
I joined the staff at YFB in May 2020 in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been so much suffering in the world these past couple of years. It has given me immeasurable pride to be part of a team of people who work tirelessly year-round to alleviate this suffering by increasing food and nutrition security in our community. Working with and learning from the enthusiastic, dedicated, and kind staff of YFB these past two years has been the most enriching years of my career.
While it certainly was a team effort that has made YFB such a success these past few years, it is no coincidence that our team’s success coincided with the leadership of Michael Bisch. The Board showed incredible wisdom when it made Michael the Executive Director. He transformed this organization, pulling it back from the brink of insolvency, making it a thriving organization with the potential to make serious inroads to end food insecurity in our community.
In my opinion, the Board made an inexplicably poor decision to fire Michael that, I fear, will cause harm to the people we work so hard to serve. Despite the Executive Team’s repeated requests for clarification, in my opinion, the Board has been unable to explain or to justify what Michael did that warrants his termination. From my perspective, it seems that the decision was rooted more in satisfying the egos of some or all of the Board members than to ensure that YFB continues to increase food security in our community.
I cannot, in good conscience, continue working for the food bank under the direction of this Board. I do not want to work for a food bank that works to serve the interests of Board Members over the needs of the food insecure in our community.