Today (May 5th) at the EWB leadership retreat in Ottawa, incoming chapter presidents are scheduled to attend sessions led by Prateek Awasthi, Director of Policy and Community and member of the Senior Management team at EWB.
There are ongoing concerns that the leadership of EWB has manipulated their members and stakeholders and withheld important information regarding the unaddressed issues of harassment and discrimination at the organization. We have made it known to the EWB Board of Directors that the executive team has been involved in retaliations towards Chelsey Rhodes that have included outright lies and slander (including details of the claims made in the call below). We asked that the executive team no longer be communicating with the membership on these issues, and not be leading sessions at the Leadership retreat.
Despite those requests, Prateek Awasthi continues to lead sessions teaching students about leadership. There is a planned session this afternoon to address these issues called “EWBetter.”
In a phone call on March 22, 2019 with Johnny Youness (who is a member of EWB, Concordia chapter member, and serves on the Advocacy Distributed Team), Prateek conveyed false information intended to question Chelsey’s credibility, character, and motives. Similar information has been spread by other members of the executive team, in a campaign of misinformation and attempted character assassination of Chelsey which has been presided over by Boris Martin, CEO.
These damaging actions– which follow from similar retaliations towards Chelsey that have gone on for years– have been assisted by men formerly involved with this situation: George Roter (co-founder and former CEO of EWB, now a Director at Mozilla), Mark Abbott (former exec team member, currently leads ‘Engineering Change Lab‘ ), Russell Groves (former VP Overseas Sending, and lawyer who led the 2013 harassment investigation) and Mike Kang (formerly Chelsey’s boss at EWB, now a consultant at Reos Partners).
The full audio of the call is available here: https://soundcloud.com/total-system-failure/prateek/s-HYK9k
Some choice quotes:
5:29 Johnny: “There’s no reason why you wouldn’t engage in dialogue with Chelsey, why you wouldn’t treat her as a human being, and why you wouldn’t follow up with the so-called feminist orientation of the whole NGO. You guys are making a mistake, it seems pretty obvious. Maybe no one is being vocal about this but everyone is talking about this- in and out of the organization. If nobody stands up and supports Chelsey openly I feel that it’s going to just keep going in the direction which is not productive…”
6:25 Prateek: “I definitely think there’s a difference in perception between how the Board is looking at it, how the Management is looking at it, and how members are looking at it. She has, you know, filed lawsuits against EWB, right. She has taken legal action against EWB. She has successfully received a payment from EWB….”
7:10 Johnny: “There’s not really a willingness to engage at all.”
7:13 Prateek: “There is. They are hiring a mediator who is going to reach out to her. She’s refused to talk to Boris, she’s refused to talk to Cameron, she’s refused to talk to anybody else. She wants, like, a full panel of women. We don’t know where we’re going to find a panel of women from. But we’re going to find one, you know. She’s refused to talk to our lawyer, both the original lawyer and the new lawyer, you know the new lawyer Colleen has, uh, has no relationship with EWB, but she doesn’t want to talk to our lawyer, so the Board is now actually like trying to find a mediator.”
FACT CHECK: At no point has Chelsey taken legal action against EWB, filed any lawsuit against EWB, and certainly has not filed ‘lawsuits’ (plural). At the time of this call, no one from EWB including any lawyer, mediator, or member of the Board or Executive team had contacted her. On the contrary, Chelsey had been contacting multiple people in the EWB leadership for years and has been blocked, ignored, and ridiculed. When the Board talked to Chelsey in April, it was because Chelsey contacted them to demand a meeting.
We ask that chapter presidents and members join the McGill chapter in their boycott and other actions to hold EWB accountable.
The Total System Failure team