Haskell Foundation lays off its employees due to financial difficulties stemming from COVID-19

A local nonprofit organization that supports Haskell Indian Nations University has laid off its two employees, and the executive director has announced his resignation.

The Haskell Foundation announced staff layoffs this week due to the current level of work available and financial difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The board has taken a series of cost reduction measures over the past 16 months, and the layoffs were our last option to position the Haskell Foundation for a recovery when the fundraising events return,” vice president of the board, Lara Waits, said in a Friday press release.

The president of the board, Joseph Clote, said in the release that the Haskell Foundation relies heavily on fundraising events and tribal donations, and that those funds come from revenue streams that have been “significantly reduced.” Many conferences and events that are vital to the Haskell Foundation were canceled in 2020 and are expected to continue to be canceled in the near future.

The release also announced the resignation of the Haskell Foundation’s executive director, Aaron Hove. The Haskell Foundation expects to have a new executive director by June of 2021. Hove resigned in order to spend more time with his family and to work on special projects, the release stated. Hove had served as executive director for about two and a half years.

In a phone conversation with the Journal-World, Hove said he will continue to help the Haskell Foundation in the transition period until a new executive director is hired. Hove said that despite having no employees, the Haskell Foundation will “keep the ball rolling as best we can,” and that there are still grants to complete.

Hove said his decision to resign was based on his personal situation, and that it was not related to recent actions at Haskell Indian Nations University. As the Journal-World has reported, the Bureau of Indian Education sent a review team to Haskell after Haskell’s Faculty Senate unanimously declared on April 1 that it had no confidence in Haskell President Ronald Graham. The editor of the student newspaper at Haskell also filed a federal lawsuit in March against the university and its president, as well as the Bureau of Indian Education and its director, alleging a violation of free speech rights.


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