UPDATE: Shelter Director Stepping Down Amid Controversy; Board’s Side Partially Revealed


WEST OCEAN CITY — Amid hints of coercion, long-time Worcester County Humane Society Director Kenille Davies last weekend announced she was stepping down after 37 years on the job at the West Ocean City facility during an impassioned speech at an annual fundraising dinner.

Davies announced last Friday at the dinner at Adolfo’s she was stepping down as director of the Worcester County Humane Society but made it clear it was a not a voluntary decision. According to Davies, two Board of Directors members and their attorney are forcing her out and replacing her with an unnamed individual at a salary of $50,000.

Several sources close to the situation maintained this week an internal investigation into the shelter’s finances revealed numerous concerns and serious questions, and, as a result, Davies has reportedly been offered a two-year severance package to retire at the end of the month. No specific allegations of any wrongdoing by the long-time director have been made public. The humane society’s Board of Directors declined to comment on the situation this week, and attorneys have reportedly been hired by Davies as well as board members.

Davies told those assembled for the annual fundraising dinner that she is essentially being forced to step down by the board.

“This is what happens when you have a bunch of a certain kind of people who want you out and they can afford to pay you to get out,” Davies told those assembled for the fundraising dinner. “I have been forced to leave as of Nov. 30 because I don’t have the money to get a lawyer involved.”

During the dinner, Davies did not go into the circumstances surrounding her decision, but hinted it was not of her own volition.

“When you get a seven-page letter of slander from two people and a lawyer from the other side of the bridge and the last line of the paragraph reads ‘when you leave the shelter, please don’t harm the animals,’ that hurts me more than anything because I can’t imagine myself ever harming an animal,” she said. “That’s the kind of commotion I’ve gotten from these people and I hope the public here can help in some way, because I feel sorry if that shelter is going to be run like that. It’s just awful. I can’t describe it in any other way than that because I did it for the love of the animals. I didn’t do it for money or prestige.”

Before Davies spoke at the dinner, Hal Adkins, her son-in-law and public works director for Ocean City, described her abrupt decision to resign as coming under duress.

“Unfortunately, Kenille has been put in a position where she has to legally defend herself with her own money and she’s not in a position to do that, so she is choosing to resign on Nov. 30,” he said. “They may have won the battle, but I assure you with the friendship that is here this evening and the support for Kenille, they may well lose the war.”

While the board declined to comment on the situation this week, two long-time Humane Society members shed light on some of the issues surrounding Davies’ resignation. Silvia and Bob Winegard have been active supporters of the local shelter as well as other no-kill shelters and are privy to the board’s position on the issue. The Winegards released their own statement late Thursday and referenced remarks made by Adkins during last Friday’s fundraising dinner.

“It is unfortunate that the business of the humane society has been characterized by Hal Adkins, Ms. Davies son-in-law and the director of Public Works for Ocean City, in the manner that it was in last week’s article,” the statement reads, referring to an article released online earlier this week by The Dispatch.

The Winegards’ statement outlines the process by which Davies’ resignation was broached and ultimately agreed upon.

“In October, Ms. Davies, represented by her counsel, William Scott, Esq., an attorney from Fenwick Island, Del., submitted her resignation to the Board of Directors of the society after several weeks of negotiation,” the statement reads. “Her resignation was voted upon and accepted by the board of directors, to be effective Nov. 30, 2013. The Board of directors was represented by its then-Attorney, Ocean City lawyer Joseph Moore during the negotiations regarding Ms. Davies resignation. Ms. Davies submitted her resignation amid concerns about the financial stability and lack of managerial control of the society.”

While the statement does not include any allegations of malfeasance, it suggests a long pattern of mismanagement and lack of accountability.

“The well-being of the animals at the Worcester County Humane Society should be and is the paramount concern of the WCHS,” the statement reads. “Several board members tried for months to exercise their fiduciary right within the organization. They viewed the financial and managerial questioning not only their right but also their fiduciary responsibility. The total years these Ocean City board members have voluntarily serviced the board and cared for the animals total 50 years combined. They were not going to stand by and watch the financial collapse of the shelter that provides such a valuable service to the community and cares for the animals that are dear to their hearts. They looked forward to the difficult work ahead of getting their financial house in order as well as other necessary management improvements including the hiring of a new director.”

The Winegards statement characterizes the decision to accept Davies’ resignation as a move in a new direction. Davies, reached this week, said she preferred to withhold future comments until after Nov. 30.

“The continuing effort cannot succeed at a no-kill shelter without proper management and appropriate institutional controls,” the Winegards’ statement reads “It is our hope that the mission of the WCHS, to continue to operate the WCHS shelter as a no-kill shelter, is not derailed by the inaccurate and imprudent comments of the uninformed who appear to be placing themselves before the mission of the society. Our primary interest has always been that the shelter operate for many years to come, and we hope that the community lends its support to do what is right for animals.

For his part, attorney Joe Moore said he represented the Humane Society during deliberations over Davies’ resignation and exit plan. Moore said he has represented the Humane Society since its founding in 1977 and represented the board during the process of resolving all issues related to Davies’ resignation. He said that was his last official duty before he resigned as the board’s attorney.

“When I believed the matter had been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved on Oct. 14, I sent a letter tendering my own resignation as the board’s attorney,” he said. “My decision to resign as the board’s attorney at that point after all these years was based on what I thought was an agreed-upon resolution to the satisfaction of all parties involved.”

Meanwhile, news of Davies’ pending resignation amid allegations she is being forced out after 37 years has resulted in an outpouring of public support for the humane society’s director throughout the community, including a Friends for Kenille Davies group with a Facebook page that included over 500 supporters by mid-week.

In a letter to the editor this week, the Friends of Kenille Davies group wrote, “We are fortunate enough to have one of the few real George Baileys right here in Ocean City,” the letter reads. “As you may have heard, after 37 years of running the local no-kill animal shelter, Kenille Davies will no longer be a part of the storied history she created and nurtured- the Worcester County Humane Society. Like George, Kenille has dedicated her life to helping others, never pausing to reflect on how many lives she has touched. What a caring, giving and selfless person. What a wonderful life.”

30 thoughts on “UPDATE: Shelter Director Stepping Down Amid Controversy; Board’s Side Partially Revealed

  1. Please verify false statements as this article is filled with lots of them. You will not find that a two year severance package was ever offered and please look into when the Winegards filled out a membership form and paid dues. There are also 3 Board members and not 2 as stated in article and please verify when and how much money the Winegards have given to the Worcester County Humane Society in the past. The 3 Board members only volunteer one to 2 days a week ( and sometimes none) and for a short amount of time unlike the Director who is there usually 10-12 hrs per day . i guess 50 years of combined service sounded much better than the little bit of time these Board members actually spend there. It is really a shame that the Winegards have been bambozzled about what really goes on at the shelter.

  2. I agree with Alison, not only are these members not in the Shelter more than a few hours a week, when they are there thay are to busy undermining the rest of the workers and side stepping the Director to be any help. Her son-in-law was correct with his comments made at the dinner on Friday @ Adolfo’s. I have volunteered and worked at this Shelter for nearly 30 years. I have fostered animals, rushed them to the Doctors, taken them to specialists and hand fed the ones who couldn’t swallow without choking and the person I learned most of these things from was none other than Kenille Davies. I worked last year 24 paid hours and another 24 unpaid…………..and there was still work to be done.
    Such a shame , but, I have faith the truth all out in the open soon.

  3. Before this story goes too far I would hope you would respect Kenille Davies wish to speak further to this after November 30th. This is a sad way for her to leave the organization she co-founded , built into one of the most respected shelters around and gave her all to the animals and our community for 37 plus years. I would also hope before printing anymore of the Weingards and the 3 Board members side of this story you would validate their comments. 2 year severance package?? Active supporters?? Privy to the Boards position?? Board with 50 years combined?? Inaccurate and imprudent comments by the uninformed?? Financial collapse?? Kenille was forced to step down or face a law suit by the Weingards. Something she doesn’t have the means to take on. Speaking to these issues before she departs would only rekindle that fire. Please allow her to tell her story when she is able to.

  4. It’s real simple. These people just need to go open their own shelter if they are so concerned, taking the 3 Board members with them. Attempting to smear the reputation of Kenille Davies and now her son-in-law Hal Adkins is uncalled for and indefensible.

    • Why are you saying Kenille Davis reputation is being smeared by “these people?” The first public announcement (speech) and article wasn’t from the concerned board members. It was from Kenille and her son-n-law. They didn’t even state the facts and made her out as a victim! Get the facts. This organization is a 501 (c)3 and the board has a responsibility to manage the organization and funds properly. They need to make necessary changes if the director does not comply. The director answers to the board. This is not the directors own private business. The animals count on the board to be responsible & business savvy for the viability of the shelter.

      • Oh okay Mary Dean-so what you are suggesting is that after the Board members and others have accused Kenille of basically misusing funds they wished that their accusations remain private? Seems to me they would have a “fiduciary” duty to other donors and prospective donors to release info concerning possible malfeasance.

  5. Wow, Alison… what disrespect you have for the other 3 board members. People will be shocked when they hear how long they have been dedicated to the shelter. They will also be shocked when they hear what you and your family are trying to cover up. The 3 board members are only doing their job! You keep talking and trying to destroy them, but you are only making it worst. Why do you protest so much…?

    • Why are these Board members hiding so much……..? Alison asked some questions and requests some clarifications. Why don’t you want her concerns addressed? It’s you who is involved in a “cover up” by attempting to demonize Alison. Wow.

      • FreeTalker – Have you considered the FACT that the Board Members may be following the instructions of the Attorney NOT to make any public comments? That maybe, just maybe, they aren’t “hiding.” That would be the sensible decision in the midst of this
        RE: names of the Board Members. See The Freedom of Information Act and the Rules Pertaining to Non Profit Organizations. YOU have the right to “discover” the Board Members’ names and to print those names. You may state facts pertaining to those individuals. Why wait for them to appear when they most probably are under legal guidance to remain silent. Out them yourself, FreeTalker.

    • Yeah, I don’t think so……………..everyone’s interpretation of “dedicated” means something different. Yes, maybe these Board members have been there for years……….but , were they “good” years ? were they “Productive” years were they “helpful” Years ? Or were they just “there” ??? IF they in fact have done nothing wrong, not bullied “Senior” members on the Board and not given false information………………..WHY don’t they speak up ???

      The “truth” IS a powerful thing .

      • Mary, your comments are really not worth my time. I will just say that when the real story comes out, your foot will be neatly placed in your mouth. Maybe you should check into some of the bills being paid by the Humane Society by the public donations. You will find one of them is the electric bill at the personal home of one of these Board members. She feels she is entiltled because she takes a few cats home now and then.

        • In this organization, who is responsible for approving expenses? Who signs the check for the Board Member’s home electric bill? Was the decision to pay this bill voted on and approved by the Board? How do you, Alison Adkins, come to know this information? Please name the Board Member whose electric bill is paid for by WCHS funds.

          • I’m not an accountant, but WCHS seems to have some major issues. Looks like shelter is losing a lot of money. & . The focus is on expanding the new Members base and updating management skills to raise funds for the sweet homeless animals, correct? The shelter is about the animals right? You can go to National Center for Charitable to see IRS 990 forms Statistics.http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/…/521122738_201207_990.pdf

          • “…shelter is losing a lot of money. In the RED -176,433 and in the RED -101,515 I posted this information on Friends for Kenille facebook site, but they don’t seem to want facts because they deleted it! ” Facts.

          • Again…………IF an animal comes to the shelter and IS healthy………it costs an avergae $300-$500 to vet/spay/neuter/microchip
            The Adoption fee IS $50-$100 ………………DO THE MATH. It IS a Non-profit that gets NO State/Federal Funding. Yet, AMAZINGLY has been kept up and running and serving many for nearly 4 decades……….These are FACTS.

          • Oh and btw, the Friends for Kenille Davies page is just that…………..Support.
            it is NOT the place for debates…………….the truth WILL be revealed and anyone who has spent time caring for these animals should know & understand PAPERWORK takes 2nd place when there is a hungry or injured or abandoned animal.

          • Ms. Miller,
            The deficit amounts as submitted to the IRS by the WCHS on the 990 Form are facts. Facts. Concrete facts which cannot be disputed. My position regarding Ms. Davies’ departure is neutral. The intention behind posting such information on the Friends for Kenille Facebook page was to help not to debate. Perhaps people would realize how much help the WCHS really needs in the form of fundraising, grant writing and office management.

            The math does not add up, Ms. Miller. Again, I remain neutral. However, I do agree with you that it is “amazing” that the shelter has remained open when operating at such a loss. How do you propose this will continue? Do you run your household with a negative balance in your checking account? Not for profit does not mean operate at a loss. Why hasn’t someone applied for state and federal not for profit 501 c 3 funding? Yes, it requires paperwork. That is the real world of the non profit status. Pages and pages of paperwork. The paperwork can take 2nd place when it comes to a needy animal, but the paperwork still must be done. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your non profit status.

            I offer this information in friendship with all who care deeply for the precious creatures in need of our love and care.

          • All true “Cat Lover” but again, why don’t people who have so much to say step up and use their real names ?
            I did. Perhaps you could have reached out and offered to help with a fund raiser or two…………maybe you did, but since I don’t know who you are …………..I have no way of knowing.

          • I have chosen to remain neutral, Ms. Miller. I am merely sharing information. As you may have heard it said before “I have no dog in this hunt.” Therefore, my name is of no consequence in this matter. Yours, however, is.

            Are you also known as Carolyn H. Miller, age aprox. 53 yrs old? That would be important to know in a background check.

          • Ahh “deflection” who cares ? I am proud to say I am loyal to my friends and have no problem standing up to support them when there is an injustice. Again, if you can’t sign your work you really don’t exist.

          • Speaking of signatures and their importance : Google Carolyn H. Miller, Ocean City, MD. For an historical perspective on the importance of transparency.

          • Really ? Clearly you must have nothing better to do with your time……………what a shame.
            And still you have no name………….google away……………it’s NOT about me.

          • Carolyn Miller, why don’t you and the many folks who know what is going on for a group to pass the hat and raise the money to hire an attorney for the “opposing” side? With your connections and passion, I bet it would be pretty easy for you and friends to gather the bucks needed. Go Carolyn!

  6. It’s just horrible what they are doing. I don’t give a fig about who het son-in- law is. They should be a shame of what they are doing to this wonderful woman. I have known this family my whole life and never heard anything bad about them. They are good people. Shame on the board members!

  7. Mary, What are they doing to her? They didn’t come out in public. Think about it. Are you telling me just because the board likes Kenille and she is a nice person, they should not do the responsible thing? You think some board members should hide important facts from other board members. Shame on you! You all have blown this out and now it’s out of control.

  8. This is typical Ocean City POLITICS…even picking on the elders. Such a fake town, so honest and family oriented…sure it is…

  9. Shame on these people…really…its horrible…mud slinging in its best…do any of them even know Kenille on a personal level??? well i do and have known her for all the 37 years she has been involved…you will never replace her with a person who will care about the animals more than she does…her compassion is overwhelming…and a combined 50 years holds nothing to her!!!! i hope it all blows up in their faces…Stay strong Kenille…this isnt over yet….:)

    • How is it that Ms. Davies dedicated most of her life to this organization and now they have decided to do it a different way. I agree, that the people that are unhappy with Ms. Davies should open their own shelter. Lets see how successful it will be in 37 years. This organization has not lasted for 37 years as a result of turmoil , but a relationship with the community and an unselfish love for the animals.

  10. So an unnamed individual will replace Kenille and this person will receive $50,000 in salary!Kenille only gets $15,000 a year….gee, this sure is the way to run a shelter. Seems like some people have their priorities all mixed up…..

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