LONG BEACH — Adam Marquis left his position as CEO of Willapa Behavioral Health on Saturday, Sept. 26, about a month after some employees protested what they called the “erratic” behavior of the organization’s leader.
Willapa Behavioral Health is a nonprofit organization that provides mental health services and substance use disorder treatment for the Pacific County community. It is an essential source of psychiatric care for the community. Marquis took the helm of the organization in July 2017. In August, employees with WBH formed an association calling for the CEO to step down.
Employees interviewed by the Observer in August said Marquis was growing the agency too fast and without proper planning. They described Marquis as a bully who was “fond of telling people they are dispensable.”
Norm Stutznegger, who became chair of the Willapa Behavioral Health Board of Directors in August, also stepped down this week. He did not give details on why he and Marquis left the organization, but said it was an honor to serve on the board and wished the employees well.
The board chair prior to Stutznegger was Long Beach Police Chief Flint Wright. In an Aug. 26 article in the Observer, Wright said he left the position because he was tired of the “never ending controversies.”
Marquis’ departure was announced in an email to staff on Monday, Sept. 28, from Chief Human Resources Officer Lucy Dupree. No reason was given for Marquis’ exit from the top position. Dupree did not respond to emails requesting comment, and told Chinook Observer staff she would be on vacation until Oct. 13.
While the board searches for a new CEO, the organization will be co-led by Chief Clinical Officer Salina Mecham and Chief Compliance and Integration Officer David Nicholson-Klingerman.
Mecham was hired in March 2018 as a program manager. Nicholson-Klingerman was hired in May 2015 as a clinical supervisor and was promoted into his position in July 2019.
In her email to staff, Dupree said the changes in leadership may cause uneasiness for the staff and it was important for there to be open lines of communication between employees and their leadership team.
“The well-being of our staff is paramount,” Dupree wrote.
However, the organization continues to flout the public disclosure requirements of a nonprofit agency. The Observer made repeated requests for the organization’s most recent tax forms, governing documents and conflict of interest policies for its board of directors. Neither Dupree nor the board have provided these documents.