SPLC names interim president after 2 high-profile departures

Updated: Apr. 2, 2019 at 12:16 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Southern Poverty Law Center has named Karen Baynes-Dunning its interim president and chief executive officer.

Baynes-Dunning is a former juvenile court judge and has served on the SPLC board of directors since 2017.

According to the SPLC, there will now be a nationwide search for a permanent leader.

Richard Cohen announced on March 22 he was stepping after serving as president since 2003. His announcement came a week after SPLC founder Morris Dees was fired.

“Effective yesterday, Morris Dees’ employment at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was terminated. As a civil rights organization, the SPLC is committed to ensuring that the conduct of our staff reflects the mission of the organization and the values we hope to instill in the world. When one of our own fails to meet those standards, no matter his or her role in the organization, we take it seriously and must take appropriate action,” the SPLC said in a statement.

The group also announced it hired a one-time aide to former first lady Michelle Obama to review workplace practices.

“Karen is an excellent choice to lead SPLC through the important work of Tina Tchen and her team as they help SPLC establish a workforce that reflects the organization’s values: justice, truth, inclusion and equity. The SPLC staff are a group of talented and committed people, and their work will be well served by Karen’s leadership and compassion,” Cohen said in a statement.

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