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Utah Food Bank CEO ousted

Published June 7, 2013 9:40 pm

Sudden dismissal • Board of directors mum on why Karen Sendelback was replaced.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After 21 months on the job as chief executive officer for the Utah Food Bank, Karen Sendelback was abruptly replaced Wednesday by the nonprofit's board of directors.

"After careful consideration, the board made a decision to make a change in leadership and appointed Jim Yorgason as the new CEO, effective immediately," said Kelly Maxfield, a vice president with Questar Gas who leads the Utah Food Bank's board.

However, Maxfield stayed mum as to reasons for the abrupt change.

"There is a lot of confidential information discussed in those meetings," Maxfield said Friday. "Out of respect for those making the decisions and those affected, that is the only statement I want to make."

Attempts to reach Sendelback Friday were unsuccessful.

Yorgason, the food bank's chief operating officer since March 2010, was moved into the nonprofit's top executive slot on Wednesday.

"As the COO, I worked closely with Karen," Yorgason said. "She was talented, with a background in nonprofit. I always felt her expertise was appreciated."

While the nature of his job duties have changed in the past two days, Yorgason said the Utah Food Bank's mission to fight hunger statewide remains the same.

"We will continue our current direction with the strategic plan and goals we've set," Yorgason said. "We see it as business as usual."

Ginette Bott, chief marketing officer for the Utah Food Bank, said the staff was not involved in the board's deliberations Wednesday and the sudden reorganization came as a surprise.

"Our board president said that a business decision drove the change in leadership," Bott said. "It's a tough deal all the way around, and it's hard for everybody."

Gina Cornia, executive director of the advocacy organization Utahns Against Hunger, also found the leadership change "very abrupt," but said she was looking forward to working with Yorgason in addressing the needs of low-income and hungry Utahns.

According to the Utah Food Bank's 2011 tax document, the most recently available, the nonprofit received $65.4 million in revenues and spent $66.2 million, reporting a negative $846,782. The previous year, it logged a $2.2 million surplus.

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

Twitter: @catmck