Midge Grinstead has resigned as executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society, according to a statement from the society’s board of directors.
The board has appointed Mike Wildgen, former Lawrence city manager, as the society’s interim executive director.
He will work with animal welfare consultants to ensure the health and well-being of the pets in the shelter’s care during his interim leadership.
“We greatly appreciate Mike’s willingness to serve during this interim period,” said Megan Hiebert, president of the Lawrence Humane Society Board in the statement. “We thank Midge for her contributions to the Lawrence Humane Society and animal welfare over the past 14 years. We wish her well in her future pursuits.”
Reached on the phone Monday evening, Hiebert refused to comment beyond the statement, except to say that the board would seek to continue to build on Grinstead’s “positive effect on our community.”
She opted not to say whether Grinstead was asked to resign, whether any reasons were given by Grinstead or the board for her resignation, whether the board would seek to change any existing policies of the shelter or give any details about a timeline for finding a permanent replacement.
“All I’d like to say right now is that she has resigned and we continue to give updates as we go,” Hiebert said.
The board placed Grinstead on administrative leave for 28 days in the fall for unspecified personnel reasons. She returned in November. And in February, the shelter announced it would pay $10,000 in back pay to workers who did not receive compensation for their overtime.
Wildgen said he wouldn’t focus on the reasons behind Grinstead’s departure.
“That’s not something that concerns me at this point,” he said. “It’s going forward.”
He compared the situation to similar interim roles he had taken in the past, including a job as interim city administrator in Eudora and a stint as interim director of the Watkins Community Museum of History.
Wildgen said he had not met with the entire board yet, and agreed to take on the job after being approached by the board’s attorney and Hiebert.
“It’s a high-profile public service that they provide,” Wildgen said. “We want to make sure that continues.”
He said he would make sure that the budget was attended to, that services kept going and that the search for a permanent and professional director proceeded as smoothly as possible.
“My job is to eliminate my job,” Wildgen said.
He said he and the board had not yet agreed upon a salary.
Messages for Grinstead were not returned Monday evening.