Rochester’s Diversity Council dissolves, non-profits left without a sponsor

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(ABC 6 News) – After over 30 years, the Rochester Diversity Council has announced that they will be dissolving, with all programming ending March 8.

Hundreds of thousands of people use its services and a number of non-profit organizations will have to find a new sponsor to continue operating.

The decision comes after a 10-month long investigation into community and staff concerns against the council, according to a statement.

In January, its Executive Director, Dee Sabol, stepped down saying that there were too many differing opinions on what the council’s next steps should be.

“There’s just been some difficulty trying to ground the council in some different work and to make a shift,” she explained. “This is a difficult business to be in and these are difficult times, not just for diversity and inclusion but for non-profits.”

Last month, consultants were brought in for review to address concerns brought before the board.

In a statement from the council, consultants found that the council, “did not have the financial and human resources or sufficient stakeholder support to continue operating.”

Many in the community are left with many unanswered questions.

“Is it because they’re duplicating services, is it other things, I don’t know, but I know the work isn’t done,” said Rochester City Councilman Patrick Keane.

Almost a dozen non-profits fall under the Diversity Council’s leadership and will now need to transfer to a new organization, some even to a new building.

One of these organizations, the Southeastern Minnesota Interfaith Immigrant Legal Defense (SMIILD), says it has one week to find a new sponsor and ensure donors do not get confused on where they are sending money to.

“They’re holding almost $20,000 of ours and we need them to get things wrapped up so that they have a place to send that check to before next Wednesday. That’s a big part of this issue, is just how fast this has to happen,” said Michael Resman, the board chairman of SMIILD.

For now, non-profits for diversity and equity in Rochester will have to look elsewhere for support.

“I watch for how we go forward, how things will be to keep up this advocacy, to keep up this education in the community,” added Keane.

Members of the Diversity Council Board of Directors refused to comment further on the matter.