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5 Members Of Clara White Mission Executive Board Resign

Clara White Mission via Facebook

Five members of the executive board of the Clara White Mission resigned this week over concerns with leadership, especially amid last month’s COVID outbreak at the Downtown facility. 

CEO Ju’Coby Pittman, who’s also the District 8 city councilwoman, is still recovering from the illness herself. The organization’s Head Chef Keith Smith, who had worked at the facility for decades, died of COVID last month.

Resignation letters and other correspondence from the board members shared with WJCT News detail some of their concerns, including: 

  • Pittman’s delay in hiring a chief operating officer for the organization
  • Concern over Pittman’s comment that she wanted to hire someone who “looked like her” (a comment Pittman said was taken out of context)  
  • And the fact that board members were not told about the COVID outbreak at the mission until a week after it began

In a statement sent to WJCT News, the mission’s leadership said the resignations do not affect the mission’s ability to do its work preventing homelessness.
“We are dedicated to the community in the fight against coronavirus. We are offering free vaccinations every Wednesday,” the statement reads, in part. “The rich history of what Dr. Eartha M. M. White started almost 120 years ago will continue in the city of Jacksonville. The staff and board members are committed to providing much-needed services to our most vulnerable citizens.”

The 118-year-old mission has grown from being a soup kitchen to a training center and housing facility for veterans and low-income residents. The mission has also expanded its services to include farming at White Harvest Farms and catering at Riverside North.

Pittman on Friday told WJCT News partner News4Jax that she did not want to comment on the resignations before consulting with the mission’s attorney.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP