LBFE executive director resigns

HANCOCK – The recently hired executive director of Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly resigned without explanation Jan. 31 after just four months on the job.

Michael Lydon, president of the LBFE board of directors, said the board hired Chris DeGiulio in late August after former and original Executive Director Mike Aten resigned from the position last spring to concentrate on developing the LBFE foundation. DeGiulio started on Oct. 1.

Cathy Aten, Mike Aten’s wife and LBFE coordinator of volunteers, has agreed to be interim executive director until a replacement can be found for DeGiulio.

It’s unknown where DeGiulio is now, Lydon said.

Lydon said the search for a replacement for Aten took about six months last year, and the search committee settled on four applicants out of 15, one of whom was local.

Much time was spent looking into the applicants’ backgrounds, Lydon said.

“We gave them a pretty thorough vetting,” he said. “They were all four very qualified candidates.”

Cathy Aten said there is no concern DeGiulio left taking any LBFE money.

“That was not an issue with us,” she said.

For a Gazette article in October after he started at LBFE, DeGiulio said in New Jersey he was the chief financial officer for a non-profit organization called Brand New Day, which provides housing, education and economic opportunities for low-income residents. Before that, he worked at a community action program in northern New Jersey.

Little Brothers of the Poor was started in France in 1946 by a nobleman named Armand Marquiset with the intention of giving support to elderly people who were suffering from the after effects of World War II. In 1959, the organization expanded to the United States with an office in Chicago. Its name was changed to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. In 1972, an office opened in Minneapolis, and in 1979, an office opened in Boston. There are also offices in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Miami.

The Houghton County Upper Michigan Chapter of LBFE started in an apartment on White Street in Hancock on May 1, 1982, with Aten as director. After a year, the office moved to a house on M-26 in Ripley, which they rented with an option to buy. In 1999, a third move put them into their current office on Hancock Street in Hancock. The organization’s mission is to provide friendship and various kinds of support to elderly residents of the Copper Country.

Lydon said DeGiulio started the job as director at the start of the organization’s fiscal year. It was also the time when staff started working to organize their Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, as well as a fundraising period.

“He got started in the busiest quarter of the year,” Lydon said.

Since Cathy Aten has been with the local LBFE chapter since 1986, and is very familiar with its operations, Lydon said the board decided to ask her to be acting director.

Cathy Aten said she will have many people available to help her as director.

“We have a great staff, and we have a wonderful volunteer core,” she said.

DeGiulio’s resignation was completely unexpected by everyone with the organization, Aten said. “We were surprised,” she said. “We wish Chris the best.”

Cathy Aten said she has confidence the board of directors will do a good job finding a new executive director.

“They’re going to do what’s best for the organization,” she said.

Cathy Aten said she’s not interested in taking on the executive director position permanently.

“I’m not looking at that right now,” she said.

Lydon said the board’s search committee will meet Feb. 24 to decide how they will go about looking for a new executive director. They may contact the other three applicants from last year, but those people may have taken other positions, or they may not be interested anymore.

“We’re going to start the process over,” he said.