AYPN 'Moving Forward' After E-mails Leaked

by Nate Hinkel  on Monday, Dec. 3, 2007 12:00 am  

Arkansas Young Professionals Network Executive Director William Porterfield, foreground, and other members of the nonprofit's leadership meet last Wednesday at the Law Offices of Gary Green in Little Rock.

"We decided that those who resigned were already enough fallout and that we would put it all behind us and move forward," Dixon said. "A lot of what was said in the e-mails that I saw was rah-rah type stuff regarding the election and could easily be misconstrued."

For the record, Dixon said, all the leadership positions went unopposed in the election, which was not compromised in any way.

E-mails long after the election, however, indicate more scheming among members of AYPN's board. In a March 8 e-mail, Randell Shelton, director of AYPN's economic development committee, wrote, "Regarding the retreat I think we need to establish the goals among ourselves then figure out how to smoothly implement them during the retreat ... . We've been able to get things through without any major problems so let's work on keeping that going - a little acting is kind of fun, but if we have to vote some things 5 to 3 let's be ready for that."

Dixon said he regretted that the electronic conversation became public but thought it was best to focus on the future of the organization since the next annual election of leaders is just two months away.

"We have accomplished a lot of good things in our short existence, and we have a lot more on the table to accomplish," he said. "It's best just to move forward, put this behind us and learn from it, and keep moving on."

No new e-mails have surfaced since the initial batch went public in October.

Although there is no official age limit for AYPN membership, most members range from their early 20s to their mid-30s. The officers involved in the e-mailing were in their mid-20s, according to a source who wanted to remain anonymous.

'Isolated Incident'

AYPN began in 2003 with the primary mission of keeping young, talented professionals in Arkansas to serve as the future executives of the state.

Its membership has been as high as 500, Dixon said, but generally fluctuates between 350 and 400.

Dixon said that aside from the two directors who already resigned, he doesn't expect a decrease in membership due to what he called the "e-mail controversy."

"I don't expect there to be too many repercussions because of this isolated incident," Dixon said. "Like I said, we've all but already moved on."

The timing of the e-mail controversy, however, came at an awkward moment for AYPN. The e-mails surfaced on local blogs the same day AYPN announced its biggest project to date: free wireless Internet service in the River Market District of downtown Little Rock.



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