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Kids Hope Alliance once again without a leader

With CEO Joe Peppers still on administrative leave, the acting CEO is now stepping down to pursue other opportunities.

Once again, the Kid's Hope Alliance (KHA) is without a leader.

KHA is a city-funded organization that provides youth programs and activities.

The group's current CEO Joe Peppers has been on administrative leave since last summer, after claiming that Mayor Lenny Curry’s office pressured him to steer grant money to certain favored nonprofits.

On Wednesday, the KHA board met to discuss how to go forward with the announcement of acting CEO Donald Horner III's decision to step down. 

At the meeting, Horner said it was an honor to have the position, but is leaving to pursue other professional opportunities.

The KHA board floated the idea of board member, Dr. Saralyn Grass, stepping in as the new acting CEO. Dr. Grass worked closely with Horner and would not have a huge learning curve. She added that she felt prepared to step in.

What to do about a permanent CEO was also discussed. Board member Dr. Barbara Darby said she would not entertain the idea.

"I, for one, will not participate in premature discussions about a person who's still CEO under administrative leave," Dr. Darby said. "And I don't know because the city didn’t engage me in any discussions about why he was gone under administrative leave. So I'm totally unaware, so I'm waiting for the report."

Board Chair Kevin Gay agreed but says he brought the discussion up to be proactive.

"What I do believe since it's gone on so long, is that it would be improper for us to wait 6-10 weeks to figure out what our options are," Gay said.

The board expects to make their final decision on an acting CEO at their next board meeting on Feb.19. That will also be Horner’s last day.