Eugene Walsh, described by many of his colleagues as an extremely competent administrator, was fired last month from his job as a staff director of the Arlington United Way because one of his supervisors said he was divisive and uncooperative.
But in a move unusual for the volunteer social-action organization the Arlington United Way general membership, led by a Virginia state delegate, rallied to Walsh's defense by voting to reinstate him in his position and remove the supervisor, who was the chairman of the Arlington Executive Committee.
The firing and subsequent request to rehire Walsh has been the subject of constant debate among the Arlington United Way volunteers and has caused dissension in the local organization, local members said.
It started when Elizabeth Stansbery, United Way executive committee chairman for the past year, filed a complaint against Walsh, a United Way worker for nine years. Robert C. Keller, another executive committee member, also complained against Walsh. As a result, Walsh was fired by the executive vice president of the National Capital United Way.
According to a letter sent to Walsh by United Way attorney Larry C. Williams, Walsh was fired because he failed to work "in a constructive fashion" with volunteer's work, attempted to "usurp the role and responsibility of volunteers" and refused to cooperate with Stansbery. Stansbery is an exceptionally talented and hard-working volunteers, according to other United Way workers.
Walsh denies the charges. And many volunteers disagreed with the allegations against him and said Walsh had been extremely good to work with.
Jon Kinney, a member of the executive board, said Walsh always acted with a "spirit of cooperation."
Stansbery said her lawyers instructed her not to list specific complaints against Walsh. But she added, "Personally I know I'm right and the charges are right. I stand on my own integrity."