Followup: West Seattle Senior Center hires ousted director as consultant, ‘evaluates relationship’ with Senior Services

Karen Sisson is back at the Senior Center of West Seattle – as a consultant.

As first reported here July 14, after 25 years as center director, Sisson was fired by Senior Services, the citywide nonprofit that provides staffing to centers including West Seattle, after sending an e-mail that expressed concern over possible operational changes SS was reported to be considering. SS would not comment on the reason for Sisson’s ouster, but multiple sources attributed it to the e-mail.

Now, the Senior Center’s board – which operates independently of Senior Services and its board – has hired Sisson as a consultant, and is demanding that SS reinstate her as center director. From board president David Robertson:

The Senior Center of West Seattle unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing Karen Sisson as Center Director and expressing its lack of confidence in Paula Houston, the Agency Director of Senior Services. A copy of the resolution is attached:

The Senior Center of West Seattle has hired Karen Sisson as a consultant to assist the Board in dealing with financial matters of the Senior Center of West Seattle as the Senior Center evaluates its relationship with Senior Services.

Unlike most of the Seattle senior centers that are staffed through Senior Services, the West Seattle center owns its own building. In addition to the board resolution, Sisson’s firing also has sparked a community outcry, including a petition drive, and an earlier board “vote of confidence” in her work. Sisson herself hasn’t commented directly on her firing but told WSB she appreciates the messages of support.

8 Replies to "Followup: West Seattle Senior Center hires ousted director as consultant, 'evaluates relationship' with Senior Services"

  • Jan Jarrell August 25, 2014 (1:05 pm)

    As a West Seattle Senior Center volunteer AND as a West Seattle senior citizen, I ALSO demand that Karen be immediately reinstated to the job for which she has constantly demonstrated not only wholehearted dedication but outstanding ability.

    We are so much poorer without her at the helm.

    I hope so much that the Senior Center of West Seattle is able to break away from Senior Services. Why would anyone want to be part of an organization with a person such as Paula Houston at the head? Who fires a remarkable employee – one who has served our community for a quarter century – without board discuss, due process, consultation ?? And who has repeatedly ignored the cries, pleas, and demands of many, many West Seattle citizens that Karen be brought back.

    That she is back at the Center is good. But we need her back at the helm.. and the sooner the better!!

    Jan Jarrell

  • dhg August 25, 2014 (2:48 pm)

    I am so glad to hear the board has taken a very strong stand in support of Karen. I hope her reinstatement happens soon.

  • Pibal August 25, 2014 (5:58 pm)

    So often we see organizations cave to a power play because there is no stomach to dig in for what is right.

    Kudos to the West Seattle Senior Board for having the chutzpah to call it like it is.

    This entire community stands behind you.

    Well done!!!

  • Ray F August 25, 2014 (6:25 pm)

    Am proud of the board. Fair, even handed, thoughtful. Nice to see.

  • Nichole Casado August 25, 2014 (6:42 pm)

    As a West Seattle Board member I thank you for your patience as we have been in discussions behind closed doors.

    We have several fundraisers coming up in Sept. in which the funds raised stay with the West Seattle Senior Center and DO NOT go to the larger Senior Services Org funds. Please see the centers website for details

    There is a Paella Night, Drag Queen Tupperware Party and the ever popular Rainbow BINGO planned.
    Again, money raised at these events stay in West Seattle supporting the West Seattle Senior Center.

    Another way to show support is volunteer! We need extra hands in the café! Easy sandwich prep and soup serving….contact Deborah at the center to get set up to volunteer.

    Thank you to your patience, support and please know we hear you and are trying to ensure the stability of the center for many years to come!

    Nichole Casado
    West Seattle Board Member

  • JoAnne August 25, 2014 (7:34 pm)

    Good for them! And I hope the board dumps Senior Services. We’ve seen their true colors.

  • Jan Jarrell August 26, 2014 (9:30 am)

    Nichole, I am SO happy… both as a West Seattle Senior Center volunteer AND as a West Seattle senior citizen, to see one of our board members speak out on this issues.

    We need to see MORE of this. We (and by ‘we’ I mean all the seniors of West Seattle) to see ‘our’ board voice their support of a woman who has dedicated her life to us. We support YOU in your wise decision to stand by Karen’s side.

    Please, board members… let your voice be heard!

    Jan Jarrell

  • Cleo August 30, 2014 (1:36 pm)

    Call Phinney Neighborhood Center. They adopted the Greenwood Senior Center when it was dumped by SS. There are existing models for indecent centers!

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