THOMASVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) — A man has retired from his leadership of a North Carolina organization after an investigation into possible financial misuse.
During a Sept. 13 meeting, the Board of Trustees of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina discussed reports on a financial review requested by the executive committee in the spring, they then adjourned for a meeting next week.
CEO of Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina, Michael C. Blackwell, retired effective immediately after a Sept. 19 meeting.
“Based on the findings of the review, the board and BCH president/CEO Michael C. Blackwell finalized an agreement on September 19 for Blackwell to retire effective immediately. Both parties have agreed that moving in the direction of new leadership is in the best interest of the organization and its mission of ‘sharing hope…changing lives,'” a release from the organization reads.
The forensic accountant’s review of organizational expenses by Blackwell, and BCH says that the accountant found things that “substantiated multiple instances of misuse” conflicting the “BCH policies and Blackwell’s fiduciary duties.”
BCH says that Blackwell has agreed to reimburse the funds that were misused and pay taxes on the funds as well, when applicable.
“While the outcome of this review was disappointing, the action taken by the trustees clearly prioritizes that the integrity of the BCH mission and, most importantly, our commitment to the children and families we serve comes first,” Gayla Freeman, Chairman of the BCH Executive Committee, said in a statement. “It is our hope that this is the first step in rebuilding trust with our supporters, partners and NC Baptists who have faithfully stood with us to minister to the needs of the most vulnerable while showing them God’s unconditional love.”
BCH also writes that the financial review stated that the bylaws as currently written give the CEO “too wide a margin of financial authority” but Freeman states that the misuse of funds was isolated to Blackwell and “not systemic.”
The financial report primarily deals with an account that Blackwell was using “for personal use” that was connected to BCH. The report alleges that donations were put into this account and used for personal expenditures, like a new car for Blackwell’s wife, without donors being aware, and the Board not being aware of the existence of the account.
From the report: “This account was authorized and budgeted for with $50,000 by the BCH executive committee in 2004. Subsequent Board and committee minutes contain no record that the Board authorized the continuation or replenishment of the fund beyond the initial $50,000. Based on a review of documents, neither the budgeting for nor the continued use of these funds has been included in the annual budgets approved by the Board, nor are they reported separately on financial reports provided to the Board.”
The Board provided the full financial report:
Financial Report provided by Baptist Children’s Home by FOX8 on Scribd
The board is developing a plan to update and strengthen the governing structure and has a goal of establishing “the degree of oversight that is essential for an organization of BCH’s size and scope.”
In the meantime, they will be searching for a new executive leader of the almost 138-year-old ministry.
“Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH) was established on November 11, 1885 as the Thomasville Orphanage. Today, BCH has grown from its inaugural location into one of the southeast’s largest childcare organizations located in 35 communities throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and in Guatemala,” according to the release.