Tom and Edie Morgan earlier this year. Photo: Lisa Bryan, KP News

After months of discussion with its board and staff, Edie Morgan stepped down as executive director of The Mustard Seed Project and went into retirement effective May 14. 

“When an organization’s founder leaves, it’s gut-wrenching,” said board member Norm McLoughlin. 

“This (announcement) is earlier than we had initially anticipated but the staff is ready to step in and will continue to coordinate our services and programs,” said TMSP Board President Sara Thompson in a written statement to Key Peninsula News. 

Thompson also serves as president of the KP News publishing board and is a regular volunteer contributor to the paper.

According to Thompson’s statement, the board discussed succession planning for nearly a year following the announcement by Morgan of her intention to retire to enjoy more free time with her husband, Tom. The board hired Linda Hanson, a management consultant sourced through the nonprofit 501 Commons that provides services for nonprofits, to assist with the transition. 

Hanson met with the board and staff and later facilitated the annual retreat in March, which focused on succession planning, Thompson said. An integral part of that plan was staff reorganization—something the staff and the board had identified as important.

Hanson was then hired in April for two months to update job descriptions, evaluate and improve office procedures and to make recommendations for the staffing structure. 

In the meantime, “Linda Hanson has agreed to stay as acting executive director while we search for a new leader,” Thompson said. 

The TMSP board, staff and volunteers met at the Crandall Center May 18 to discuss the news. Volunteers reportedly questioned what appeared to be an abrupt retirement, and not everyone left feeling fully satisfied with the answers they were given, according to multiple participants who spoke to the KP News afterward.

“I’m upset, but I am going to continue as a volunteer driver for Mustard Seed,” said Bill Lloyd, of Home. “We serve the community. No matter how I feel about the board it’s the community we serve.” 

Lloyd said he enjoys seeing the happiness on the faces of people who might not get out often and aren’t driving anymore. “I see the reaction too on the faces of the friends waiting to greet them; big smiles all around. Who doesn’t want to be around that?”

“Edie Morgan is an icon in this community; TMSP would not exist without her,” Thompson said. “Hundreds of seniors are in their own homes now because of the networks she has created.

“I have been deeply involved in the housing project, along with our skilled and committed consultants, and I will do my utmost to realize Edie’s vision of creating the innovative kind of living experience that we would all like to have when or if we can’t stay in our own homes.” 

Morgan provided this statement to the KP News: “Those who know me realize that this was not at all the smooth transition I had hoped we would experience. However, I have to say it feels as if a huge burden of responsibility has suddenly been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m quite sure retirement will be as wonderful as I’d hoped. I’ll always be incredibly grateful to everyone in this community and beyond who supported the mission and vision of The Mustard Seed Project through their generous gifts of time, labor, talent and financial support. Many hundreds of elders and family members have been served directly and indirectly over the past 12 years by a collective group of well over 100 volunteers, and a small, highly dedicated staff. Together we have built an elder-friendly Key Peninsula, as a community, in the very best sense of that word. I’m honored to have been a part of such good work. I hope it continues to flourish into the future.” 

Just prior to press time, TMSP board of directors issued the following statement: “Our organization’s vision and mission have not changed, nor has its dependence on the work of it many volunteers. The continued health and growth of TMSP is the greatest affirmation of Edie Morgan’s legacy. The Mustard Seed Project board will continue to devote its full energy toward that end.”

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