In Midst of Crisis, A-SPAN Sees Board Departures


(Saturday, February 9, 2008 7:57 AM EST)

As the Arlington Street People's Assistance Network (A-SPAN) works to rebuild damaged relations with the county government, it is doing so without several veteran members of its board of directors.

Both John Murphy and board president Meg Tuccillo have departed - Tuccillo citing her workload at Arlington Public Schools, Murphy expressing dissatisfaction with the organization's direction under the helm of its new executive director.

Tuccillo, assistant superintendent of administrative services for the school system, said the current effort to adjust school boundaries caused her to leave the board.

“It's been too consuming,” Tuccillo said of her school-system workload. “I decided I didn't have the time and energy to devote to the important issues of A-SPAN at this point.”

“I've been at either public hearings or work sessions and community group sessions, day and night, for the last couple months, and decided I had to step back from other activities,” she said.

Tuccillo was succeeded by Andy Keyes as A-SPAN president.

For John Murphy, who resigned on Jan. 30, concern about the direction of the homeless-advocacy organization was the reason to depart.

The spat between A-SPAN's leadership and the county government over operation of the emergency winter shelter crystallized his decision.

“I didn't want to be part of the whole media circus,” said Murphy, an executive with Washington Workplace. “I think it's inappropriate for an organization that relies on the county, to grandstand against them.”

Murphy said the county government was right to terminate its contract with A-SPAN, and find another provider to manage the emergency shelter, once A-SPAN officials threatened to pull out of the agreement.

“I don't know what else the county could have done - they had a gun to their head,” he said. “From the county's point of view, it's a wise decision [to terminate the contract].”

Murphy was on the A-SPAN search committee that hired Brian Carome as executive director last year, but apparently regrets the choice.

“It's really sad that this service organization is being led down the wrong path,” Murphy said. “It makes me sad, because all of the work [A-SPAN cofounder and former executive director] Lora Rinker did is being torn down.”

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