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February 2, 2013

HAWC chief leaving, says probe is no factor

SALEM — The executive director of HAWC, the Salem-based domestic violence agency, is resigning but will remain as interim director until a replacement is found.

Both Candace Waldron, the executive director of Healing Abuse, Working for Change, and Stephen Feron, the president of HAWC’s board, said Waldron’s resignation is not connected to a state investigation into allegations of abuse at a domestic violence shelter.

“It is absolutely not related,” Feron said.

That investigation cleared HAWC of accusations by lawyers for four residents who claimed they were subjected to humiliating or retaliatory treatment. It also, however, made recommendations for training, policy development and other measures.

Waldron told board members in May that she planned to step down from the post she’s held for more than a dozen years by the end of 2012, but agreed to stay on as interim director until a replacement is hired, she and Feron said Thursday.

“We love Candace,” Feron said. “The board loves Candace, and we fully support her.”

Feron said the board has hired a consultant, Third Sector New England, to assist in the search for a new director. Major donors were sent a letter in October, he said. While based in Salem, HAWC provides services for women in Gloucester and across Cape Ann and carries out a number of Cape Ann fund-raising efforts.

Waldron said she is trying to complete a memoir and saw an opportunity to do that when her youngest child recently started college.

“No way was I going to be able to do that while also running a nonprofit,” she said.

“I’ve loved my 13 years at HAWC,” Waldron said. “I love my staff.”

She acknowledged that there have been “a lot of challenges along the way,” but also some major successes, including establishing a parent-child trauma recovery team, the purchase and renovation of the shelter, the change in name from “Help for Abused Women and their Children” in order to reflect the diversity of the clientele, and a grant that allowed HAWC to expand legal advocacy for women in court.

Waldron will remain with the organization on a part-time basis until a new director is in place. Feron said that is likely to happen sometime later this year.

The consultant is conducting interviews of HAWC employees, is taking an overall look at its operations and will then create a job description for the new director.

Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521 jmanganis@gloucestertimes.com, or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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