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Karen Baynes-Dunning named interim president and CEO

We’re proud to announce that the Southern Poverty Law Center’s board of directors has voted unanimously to name Karen Baynes-Dunning as our interim president and CEO.

Karen has resigned from the board and will begin immediately. She will serve until a long-term interim or permanent president is named.

A former juvenile court judge, Karen has dedicated her career to improving the quality of life for disadvantaged children, youth and families. Over the past 25 years, she has served in numerous leadership positions in the public and nonprofit sectors to help improve the policies and services that affect the lives of vulnerable children.

Karen is currently the president of Baynes-Dunning Consulting LLC of Greenville, S.C., and serves as the federal court-appointed monitor overseeing reform efforts at the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.

She was appointed to the juvenile court bench in Fulton County, Georgia, in 1998, serving until 2002. Her extensive legal and management experience makes her an incredible asset to our team and the perfect person to step into this role.

As you may know, over the last few weeks we’ve faced a number of internal workplace challenges. It has been a difficult time for us, and we know that it has been a difficult time for many of you as well. However, we remain as committed to our work as ever.

But, we’re also firm in our commitment to resolving the issues at hand. We launched an initiative with Tina Tchen — a former chief of staff for Michelle Obama and one of the leading voices behind the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund — to advise us on workplace culture issues. Tina’s evaluation will continue, and we’re committed to enacting long-lasting changes following her recommendations. Our employees deserve a workplace that reflects our highest values, and we will ensure that it happens.

The decision to name Karen as interim president is a critical step in that process. She has consistently shown leadership and dedication to the SPLC and brings a personal commitment to staff engagement in all of her work.