The Community Supporters of the Violence Intervention Program (CSVIP) are calling a press conference to speak about the crisis situation confronting the Violence Intervention Program, Inc. (VIP) and the steps we are taking to try to save it.

Elected Officials, domestic violence survivors and advocates, and representatives from the CSVIP call upon YOU to exercise your leadership role in support of the battered women and staff of VIP by joining us at the press conference.

WHEN: Thursday, April 12, 2007, 10 a.m.
WHERE: Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, 1680 Lexington Av
Confirm your attandance email or call 212.650.4938 or 212.423.9010

Community Supporters Unite to Save Domestic Violence Program

Recent Actions by Board Members Have Placed Organization in Jeopardy

The Community Supporters of the Violence Intervention Program (CSVIP), a group made up of domestic violence advocates and a wide array of community leaders, including elected officials, is demanding the resignation of the Board of Directors of the Violence Intervention Program, Inc. (“VIP”), the establishment of a new Board with the necessary qualifications and the reinstatement of Grace Perez as Executive Director.

The current board members are Vivian Selenikas, newly appointed Chair, Kenneth Diaz, Acting Chair, Sandra Quilico, Treasurer, Nancy Nazario, Secretary, Zarah Guzman, member, and Vivian Rivera, member. Calling the Board’s actions “irresponsible, arbitrary and capricious,” the CSVIP has issued an Open Letter and Petition to the Board (“The Petition”), seeking their resignation.

The reasons for this request include the following: their failure to respond to repeated requests made by community leaders to meet with them; their refusal to bring a neutral third party to facilitate whatever conflict that may have existed between them and the Executive Director; the unjustified discharge of VIP’s Executive Director; their failure to have a plan in place to ensure the management of the organization and the provision of services for VIP clients (battered women and their children); and their failure to fully explain their decision to not purchase a building that could have become a permanent home for VIP.

VIP is a very important organization that has been at the fore front of serving battered women and their children since 1984 when it opened its doors in East Harlem and became the first bilingual/bicultural (Spanish/English) domestic violence service provider in the state of New York, and one of a handful in the entire nation.

Over the years, VIP has developed and grown tremendously expanding its services beyond East Harlem to also serve women and children in the Bronx and Queens. Today, VIP provides crisis intervention, counseling, support groups, case management, and residential services to hundreds of women and children in
three boroughs.

The Board Has Refused to Meet With Community Leaders to Resolve Situation

For months, VIP’s Board of Directors has refused to meet with or respond to the calls of various community leaders who have knocked at their doors trying to prevent the very crisis that they have now created. On Monday, March 26, Jenny Rivera, who was recently appointed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights, resigned her position as Chair of VIP’s Board. However, before she did this, she made sure that the Board fired Grace Perez, who has served as VIP’s Executive Director for the past 17 years, helping to make it the exemplary organization that it is today.

The Board made this arbitrary and capricious decision without adequate reason and without having an interim director or a plan of action in place. Furthermore, prior to the discharge, the Board refused any attempt on behalf of Ms. Perez or community leaders to resolve whatever management/governance differences may have existed between the Board and the Executive Director with a neutral third party.

What we find illogical and absurd is that the only reason that this Board cited for dismissing Grace is the actions that she took related to the purchase of a building in East Harlem that would serve as a permanent home for VIP.

We know that for more than a year, Grace Perez, with the help of Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito, and with the approval of this Board, was able to obtain a $500,000 grant from the NYC Council to renovate the building once it was purchased; a $140,000 down payment for the purchase of the building and $40,000 for closing fees; the pro bono services of an architect to draw up the floor plans; as well as the pro bono services of a real estate lawyer to represent VIP in the purchasing transactions. However, at the last hour, without consulting it with Grace Perez or Councilwoman Mark Viverito, the Board decided not to go through with the purchase.

The Board cited as the reason for this decision, the advice of an unnamed financial advisor, whom they claim determined that VIP was not in a financial position to move forward with the purchase. However, this conclusion is not supported by the review of VIP’s finances by the City Council and its approval for a $500,000 grant nor by the two banks which had provided letters of intent for a mortgage of up to $1.2 million.

Board Failed to Appoint Someone to Manage the Organization Before Firing ED

The discharge of Grace Perez, and the manner in which she was terminated, demonstrates the Board’s abuse of power and the fact that they seem to care very little about the lives of the women and children served by VIP. To this day, two week after her dismissal, there is still no one appointed to manage the organization.

While the Board carries out their supposed “national search” for a new Executive Director, who is in charge of VIP’s operation and management? They took the time to find a lawyer to advise them in connection with their decisions, but they did not take the time to find someone who could oversee the operations and management of the organization before they fired Ms. Perez.

Thanks to the dedication of VIP’s staff who have taken it upon themselves to carry on with their work, the women and children have been shielded from the unconscionable chaos and atmosphere of insecurity which the Board has created.

On the day that Ms. Perez was fired, 10 representatives from local organizations went to the offices of VIP, as a group, to demand an immediate meeting with Board. Zarah F. Guzman, the only Board member, who went to VIP that day to try to change the locks on the door, took the names of the 10 representatives and promised the Board would contact them for an emergency meeting. The representatives are still waiting to hear from the Board.

As a Board that heads such an important and necessary organization, they have placed this organization and the people it serves in serious jeopardy and numerous community members have signed the open letter and petition asking for their resignation and making room for a new board that has the knowledge, experience, and credibility necessary to lead and govern VIP.

Please eMail your Comments & support to The Community Supporters of the Violence Intervention Program (CSVIP), SaveVIP@AOL.Com.

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  1. These individuals “serving” on the board of an organization that is against violence are ABUSIVING their powers! This is OUTRAGES!

  2. Thank you LUZ. Make sure you join us on Thursday & bring your family & friends.

    Dear Supporters of VIP:

    It has been three weeks since the VIP Board of Directors made the arbitrary and capricious decision to dismiss its Executive Director AND still there is NO one appointed to manage the organization. These actions have jeopardized VIP’s overall health and sustainability. Already funders are expressing concerns and have begun withholding funds. We cannot allow or afford the collapse of an organization that for 23 years has been fiscally and programmatically sound. This is an organization that provides much needed services to our community and we must do everything we can to save it.

    The Community of Supporters of VIP are calling a meeting to provide an update on the current conditions at VIP, the efforts to save VIP and explore strategies on how you can help.

    When: 6 P.M. Thursday, April 26, 2007
    Where: El Barrio, NY–exact location to be announced

    Please RSVP by repling to this email.

    Together WE Can Save VIP!


  4. Anonymous, since you “know these board memebrs” can YOU tell us what is the truth?

  5. If you really knew these board Members like you say you do, then you know that what they are doing to this organization is wrong. since you know them so well, then you really know what they are about.

  6. Can anyone tell us WHO are these people and what are they about? What backgrounds do they have? What other boards do they serve on or have served on? Are they Latinos? Are they from El Barrio?

  7. that lady Sandra quilico she is a Board Member at Bronx Advisory Board Member at the American Red Cross of greater NY. she is a Baord Member there.

  8. It makes me really sad to know that the actions of the Board are putting an organization like VIP on the line. The women and children who benefit from the services are the ones who really suffer. In addition, I am appalled at how the Board treated Grace. She has made many sacrifices to ensure that VIP is a viable organization. The Board has shown no respect to Grace, VIP and the community it was set up to serve. Why has the Board refused to meet with community residents who want to know what is going on? Are they not accountable to us?

  9. one thing is for sure that this Board has abused their power.Its very unfortune that this organazation as to suffer the abuse that it has protected women against for some many years. some one needs to get this boad out. for not serving the community, and for the mistreatment of power. I read the article and those 2 people Kenneth Diaz, and Vivian selenikas need to go. the whole board needs to be change. That is a clear misuse of power. I wish VIP the best of luck.

  10. This is abuse of power and control! The Charities Bureau should know about the crisis these board members have created to this important organization in our community.

  11. The abuse of power that this board of directors as created its beyond criminal. this organization as been helping women for the past 20 years. The damage that is doing is to all of the women that has trusted and believe in it. I just dont know there are so many croked people and hurtful people that go into power, and they forget what it was the reason that they were there in the first place. ( Kenneth Diaz, and the rest of the Board members need to resigned this Board there abused of power goes beyond an ehtical line. I have read all of the comments in this board and again I have to say that alot of you agree that this is a hostile takeover and something needs to be done about it.

  12. Kenneth (Ken) Diaz, the architect of the hostile take over of the Violence Intervention Program, resigned from the board of directors. Mr Diaz leaves the organization in crisis to the inexperienced members of the board and his “faithful” friends and followers Zarah Guzman, Nancy Nazario, Sandra Quilico, Vivian Rivera and Vivian Selenikas who he appointed new Chair of the Board before he abandoned ship. But, we ALL know he, like Jenny Rivera, isn’t faraway!

  13. The “thin line” does not separate only love & hate. It also lies between right & wrong, compentent & incompetent. Great battles are usually caused by a off-hand remark or small slights that build up over time.
    Reason and logic lose out to the cardinal sins (envy, jealousy, my d— is bigger). When everybody believes that they are doing the right thing, how do you judge who is right? When the battles for power and influence spill out into the open, the best result (for the public that is served) is a quick result.

  14. I look into the website and see that you were able to accomplish obtaining a New board of Directors for VIP and I am very Happy to hear that.

    I did not see that the Executive Director that was wrongly terminated as not been reinstated. Ms. Grace Perez. I hope that she will reinstated as a person of the community is East Harlem, I look foward seeing her back. I have seen her in many of the Domestic Violence events. espacially the bride march down in East Harlem.
    Good day and Wishing you all the best of luck..

  15. After reading the articles on the Village Voice I am dismayed by the accounts of what happened. I know the Director and have witness her ability to make excellent decisions, which have benefited the organization. We all get cold feet at times when making money decisions but the decisions she made were well thought out and in the best interest of VIP. The fact that the board took the path of less resistance in order to make a decision with out considering how the recipients of the services provided by VIP would have benefited is indicative of their disservice to the organization. The Director is a person of integrity that should be re-instated and given a public apology for the embarrassment she was subjected to…. E

  16. I strongly agree with you, she should have a public apology. she had nothing to do with what the Board had done. She is a woman of integrety, and have done everything in her power to have that agency grow thorough the 23 years that she has been involved with it. I will not accept that is at the best interest of the agency for her not to be reinstated.

    All of the new Board Members know what dedication she has had for the agency. It will be unfair for them to do that do her.

    she was wrongly terminated by a group of people that had other agendas in mind, and if it was not for the Community of East Harlem believing in her and the organization, those old Board members would of still be there.

    So let get it together here….. She should be reinstated.

  17. Unfortunately the unjustice to Grace Perez continues to this date. Theplan was for Grace Perez to be reinstated instead someone else was selected. Is there no justice? This is a woman who gave many years of her life to this organization and how was she paid back? With betrayal, her reputation tarnished. What a pity. If justice isn’t done VIP will never be the same again. You can’t go against your agency’s vision and Mission -anti-violence- and violence comes in many forms–and think it’s going to be ok.

  18. All of you guys don’t have any idea who what has occurred. Just because you attend events and get your name in the media doesn’t mean your a leader.
    I was a victim and I called the hotline in desperate need of assistant. They did nothing for me. I then contacted one of the board members to complain about VIP’s lack of compassion over the phone and service. It easy to put a marketing package together but I for one and through experience know first hand what it feels to be turned away from a desperate situation. Grace a Leader? think again you guys have been fooled. I read and I’m intelligent and because of my past I have turned into an activist and know off hand that phone contact is crucial well, the HOTLINE is a mess and I’m glad that UPPER management has changed for the better!!Kudos to the board that made that difference FINALLY!!!!!

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