Today, the “friends” of the China Institute, which roughly includes donors, volunteers, and anyone who has ever taken a class at the Upper East Side organization were surprised to receive a scathing email announcing the departure of president Sara McCalpin, who has headed the “oldest bicultural organization in America devoted exclusively to China” for eight years.
The email announcement is an acute attack on McCalpin’s tenure at the China Institute, which regularly stages art exhibitions and other events related to Chinese culture. The text calls into question McCalpin’s leadership skills and claims that she was given the job as a result of her relationship with a former chairperson of the organization rather than her qualifications. 哎哟! I mean, OUCH!
Here is the strange email sent out this morning at roughly 6am EST and forward to Hyperallergic from one of the recipients:
China Institute in America Announcement
To the China Institute Community:
The staffs of China Institute are ecstatic that the President of China Institute, Sara Judge McCalpin, has finally resigned from her position!
Sara has been incompetent at her job! Under Sara’s more than eight year leadership, China Institute’s debt has grown into 2.5 millions, half of its annual operating budget. Sara lacks the vision, management, financial and leadership skills to lead China Institute into the future. Sara came to be President of China Institute because she is a close friend of Virginia Kamsky, former Chairwoman of China Institute. Sara has no formal training as a leader of an organization.
China Institute has been in dire financial shape for the past few years! Meanwhile, Sara has been enjoying an annual salary of $250,000 plus benefits and bonus.
Rumor has it that the Board of Trustees has approved a $400K severance package for Sara to resign from her position. How can this be possible?! Sara refuses to take responsibility for her inept management of China Institute! She has blamed everyone else for China Institute’s financial problems. She has laid off key positions in Finance, Arts and Culture, Development, Membership, Education and Technology Support!
We think Sara Judge McCalpin is a greedy person and certainly does not care about China Institute and the staffs at China Institute! We have been losing colleagues left and right so China Institute can pay for Sara Judge McCalpin’s $400K severance package! How many people’s jobs can be saved with this amount of money?
How you can help? China Institute is a 501(b) 3 organization and relies on support from government, foundations, corporations and individuals like you!
· You can demand that the Board of Trustees and any future leadership must have fiduciary responsibility for China Institute!
· You can demand your donations go to supporting programs instead of paying for big salaries like Sara’s ($250,000) or of any future leadership.
· You can write to the Board of Trustees and express your displeasure regarding Sara’s pay-out and Sara’s mismanagement.
· Don’t hire Sara Judge McCalpin as leader of your organization or for your business!
Roughly seven hours hours later, another more official looking email, using China Institute’s official logo, was sent to the same list. It offered a possible explanation, including a claim that the China Institute’s email system was “hacked,” though the terms seems to be used by someone who may not understand what that exactly means.
Hyperallergic reached out to the China Institute for comment, and we spoke to an individual who refused to use her name, but indicated that the email was sent by someone outside of the Institute, and they were “working to try to figure it out.” When pressed on whether she meant that the email was sent by someone not at the Institute, she replied that it was unknown but it was by someone “unauthorized” to access the system.
Here is the full text of the second email today from the China Institute:
To: Our Friends of China Institute:
From: China Institute Board of Trustees
Didi Pei – Chair
James Chin – Vice Chair
Jay Goffman – Vice Chair
Anla Cheng – Treasurer
Kevin Lavin – Secretary
It has come to our attention that our email system has been “hacked” and an erroneous and malicious email was sent entitled “China Institute in America – Announcement.” We have notified the authorities regarding this breach and have begun an investigation as to the origination of this libelous email transmission.
This “hacked email” includes a diatribe of false and erroneous statements regarding Sara McCalpin and China Institute, and is diametrically opposed to our mission. Our mission of China Institute is to advance a deeper understanding of China through programs in education, culture, business and art in the belief that cross-cultural understanding strengthens our global community. We stand by our mission and will continue to support China Institute and all it represents.
We are resending below our announcement from July 18, with gratitude to Sara for her outstanding years of leadership.
We thank you for your support of China Institute.
Board Of Trustees, China Institute
SARA JUDGE MCCALPIN TO COMPLETE TERM AS PRESIDENT OF CHINA INSTITUTE
New York, July 18, 2013
China Institute in America, a New York City-based cultural nonprofit focused on improving understanding between the US and China, today announced that President Sara Judge McCalpin will be stepping down from her position effectiveSeptember 1, 2013.
“It has been an honor and a pleasure to lead China Institute for the past eight years,” said Ms. McCalpin, “and to work with the outstanding staff and dedicated Board of Trustees to transform the Institute during a time when the US-China relationship is arguably the most critical global relationship in the world. I believe firmly in the mission of the Institute to promote a deeper understanding of China, and am proud of the programs and initiatives we have developed during my tenure. I am grateful for the strong involvement of the many individual members, foundations, corporations, faculty and friends who support the work of China Institute.”
Chien Chung Pei, Chair of the Board of China Institute, said ”We are deeplyappreciative of the work that Sara has done to advance the mission of China Institute, particularly the establishment of the annual China Institute Summit; the expansion of our Children and Youth language programs and exchanges; raising over $18 million for the transformation of the Institute; and the receipt this year of the largest grant in the Institute’s history, a $1 million award from The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation.”
Ms. McCalpin will work closely with the Board of Trustees and senior management to ensure a smooth transition as she departs the Institute and assumes responsibility for River Way China Consulting. The Board of Trustees will begin a search for a new president in the coming months.
About China Institute in America:
China Institute, founded in 1926, is the oldest bicultural organization in the United States focused on advancing a deeper understanding of China through programs in education, culture, business, and art in the belief that cross-cultural understanding strengthens our global community.
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