For the second time this year, Douglas County ECKAN is without a leader. Again, it's not clear why.
Joyce Molina, who has been coordinator of the East Central Kansas Economic Opportunity Corp. in Lawrence since March 28, said Monday she had been fired by Richard Jackson, executive director of the Ottawa-based organization. Jackson said that wasn't true.
"If that's what she said, she's decided to leave herself, but she wasn't fired," Jackson told the Journal-World.
Molina's departure comes six months after Jackson fired Eve Cofer, who led the Douglas County office for eight years. Both Jackson and Cofer declined to say why she was fired.
Cofer's dismissal prompted local supporters of the agency to question Jackson's support of the Douglas County office.
"I was on my own at that office," Cofer said in April. "I had to get everything done myself."
Molina echoed those comments Monday, saying she grew frustrated that Jackson's requirement of a 40-hour workweek with no overtime didn't allow her to properly serve clients.
"To me, he's removed from the situation; he's not in Douglas County," Molina said. "He doesn't know how many clients you see, how many phone calls you answer. To me, the job is to get the job done, no matter how long it takes me, to serve the client."
"I think I have a pretty good idea what it takes to run that office, or any of our offices, and we tried to provide as much support as we could," he said.
ECKAN provides a food commodity program for those in need, serves breakfast and lunch to Lawrence youths in the summer, and assists with the local Head Start program, among other services. Officials have said the agency serves 700 families a year.
Nobody was served Monday, though. The office at 1600 Haskell Ave. was closed. Jackson said it wouldn't reopen until Wednesday at the earliest.
Molina said discord after Cofer's firing hurt the agency, and she said she hoped the situation wasn't repeated.
"I don't want to bring anything negative, because of the way it happened with the predecessor," Molina said. "I want that office open to serve the clients."
Jackson, meanwhile, disputed the notion Lawrence ECKAN is troubled.
"Obviously, we'd like to have somebody there long term to assist clients," he said. "I wouldn't say troubled, but I would say a little frustrated."