Spirit of Anniston board member Gayle Macolly said Executive Director Dianna Michaels, stopped working Monday after she and the organization agreed to "separate." Spirit of Anniston, which is financed by the city, hired Michaels in April. The city appropriated $179,000 to the nonprofit in its 2014 budget.
"She is no longer our executive director," Macolly said. "We have agreed to separate right now."
Macolly would not provide further details, such as whether Michaels resigned or was fired, saying the contract between the Spirit of Anniston and Michaels included a confidentiality agreement. She also would not say why Michaels no longer worked for the nonprofit.
"We just decided to go our separate pathways, and we're just deciding how to do that separation," Macolly said.
Attempts Wednesday to reach Michaels for comment were unsuccessful.
Michaels, a former television news anchor and reporter with WJSU-TV40, WBRC Channel 6 in Birmingham and WEAC-TV24, was hired after Spirit of Anniston fired its previous executive director, Betsy Bean, who had headed the organization for seven years.
Macolly said the Spirit of Anniston board likely will begin a search for a new executive director within two weeks. Meanwhile, Spirit of Anniston office manager Charity Duncan will act as interim executive director, Macolly said.
"She's been with us for over five years and she was interim executive director in between Betsy and Dianna," Macolly said.
Mayor Vaughn Stewart said he had heard about the Spirit of Anniston's decision but did not know the particulars of the situation.
"You always regret this for an individual but at the same time, I respect the board's position," Stewart said. "As a separate entity ... we don't get involved with their internal workings ... I do not want to be looking over anyone's shoulders when it comes to these nonprofits."
Councilman Jay Jenkins said Wednesday that he had not heard about Michaels’ departure, but supported the organization.
"I have a lot of faith in the Spirit board — it's a good group of folks that have the good of Anniston at heart," Jenkins said. "I think they'll move forward and do good things."
Macolly said the shift in leadership will not impact the Spirit of Anniston's efforts.
"Our board is a working board, so we're not anticipating a major impact," she said.
Stewart said the Spirit of Anniston is a vital part of the council's efforts to revitalize the downtown area.
"It's a huge partner, especially with the emphasis of downtown redevelopment that this council has made," Stewart said. "I have a lot of faith in that board and think it'll be able to carry on."
Jenkins agreed on Spirit of Anniston's importance to the city.
"I feel like they're an integral piece of any downtown growth," Jenkins said.
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.