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Stacey Schwartz Resigns as CEO of World Services for the Blind

3 min read

Stacey Hunter Schwartz has resigned as president and CEO of the World Services for the Blind of Little Rock.

Schwartz confirmed the move, first reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, to Arkansas Business on Monday.

“I decided to resign last Thursday night, effective last Friday at close of business day,” Schwartz said in an email. “It was a difficult decision. I have the utmost respect for the staff, and I wish all the best to WSB.”

There has been no announcement of the resignation, or a replacement, from the organization. A liaison for WSB’s board of directors did not immediately respond to an email from Arkansas Business seeking comment.

Schwartz’s resignation comes amid layoffs, financial struggles and a prolonged holiday break for the nonprofit.

About 10 employees were laid off around Nov. 25 due to “budgetary constraints.”

In a Dec. 11 statement on its website, citing “financial difficulties,” WSB announced it would extend its usual holiday closure to allow its leaders time to devise a recovery plan.

“This is a challenging time for the organization and our clients, staff and stakeholders,” the statement read. “WSB is not closing its doors.”

Last week, Schwartz told Arkansas Business that relocation would be among the topics discussed over the break, which began Friday.

“Over this break period, WSB leadership will be discussing options for sustaining the organization’s mission [such as relocation] and specific action steps to take in that process,” Schwartz said in an email.

Since 2010, WSB has seen its total assets shrink from $7.1 million to $5.6 million, according to the organization’s annual 990 Form filed with the Internal Revenue Service. In the same time period, net assets are down from $3.7 million to $2.4 million, while expenses have outweighed revenues each year.

“A lot has changed in the rehabilitation industry and the economy since WSB was founded in 1947,” Schwartz told Arkansas Business on Dec. 15. “Although WSB serves a specific population with unique services, the organization has faced challenges for many years based in efforts to keep up with progress in the industry. Like many other nonprofits, WSB was also hit hard during the recession and recovery has been limited.”

Short Stint

Schwartz’s resignation comes just more than a month after she was named to the position Nov. 17.

She came from Independence Inc. of Lawrence, Kansas, an independent living center that serves 800 people each year, where she was executive director for five years.

“WSB is fortunate to hire such a strong leader as Stacey Hunter Schwartz, particularly when all charity organizations are undergoing such tough times,” Tom Duke, chairman of the nonprofit’s board of directors, said in a November news release. “I have every confidence that she will do a brilliant job.” 

Previous attempts to contact Duke at his chiropractic office in Kansas City, Missouri, were unsuccessful.

Schwartz was the third person to hold the top executive position at WSB during the calendar year. She replaced Tony O. Woodell, who was appointed to the position in June.

Woodell, who was previously the organization’s chief operating officer, replaced Larry Dickerson, who announced his retirement in March after five years in the role.

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