The Time is NOW.
Two thirds of the NOW State Presidents, from every region of the country, are calling for the National President to resign and for the Board to begin a strategic examination of the structural racism within NOW. This is about more than one person who has clearly demonstrated poor decision-making and communication skills that have put our organization at risk. This is about walking our talk to stand for racial justice and to combat all injustices in every level of our organization. Anti-racism is a core issue and foundation of NOW and we must fight to create an inclusive organization.
We know this behavior is not new:
There is a current lawsuit against Toni by her former Vice President, Gilda Yazzie, a Native American woman. We also have a letter signed by 15 former National Action Center Staff members that was sent to the board in 2018 to call out the current sitting president's problematic and racist behavior. The letter from the NAC Staff members referenced that Toni's erratic and racist behavior lost not only well-respected staff members but also severed partnerships with external partners and organizations. We were shocked and disappointed to learn that the Board hired an investigator who did not conduct a thorough investigation and did not provide a written report of their investigation. The staff who wrote the letter were not contacted or interviewed and the investigator did not speak with former Vice President Gilda Yazzie.
And it’s only getting worse:
Toni Van Pelt, the current president, has allowed the Communications Manager, Kim Sontag to maintain her Online Digital Manager position. Kim Sontag posted racist accusations against a black man on Facebook and has not faced any repercussions although multiple State Presidents have inquired as to any action taken.
The current Vice President, Christian Nunes, a Black woman has spoken out about her experience of racism and tokenization working with Toni Van Pelt.
Four National Action Center staff have resigned since January and all four confirmed to the state presidents that racial issues were one of the many reasons they left the organization.