The executive director of Whitman-Walker Clinic has been forced out of his job only four months after taking charge of the region's largest provider of medical and social services to HIV and AIDS patients.

Elliot Johnson, a longtime Los Angeles HIV/AIDS program administrator, was placed on administrative leave Dec. 3, but clinic board members declined until yesterday to confirm that he will not be returning to his post.

The board voted unanimously Monday night, with 32 members present, to negotiate a resignation with Johnson. The agreement has not been completed yet.

"He has a very different approach to management than we wanted, as it turned out, and that's why he was asked to resign," said Chairman Mark M. Levin.

Johnson, 55, did not respond to a message left at his home yesterday. He replaced Jim Graham, a longtime Whitman-Walker leader who he was elected to the D.C. Council.

For 14 years, Graham led the region's effort to cope with the AIDS epidemic, and finding a replacement for him was bitterly contested last spring. Several board members resigned in protest after Levin successfully pushed to hire Johnson.

"We thought Elliot would do a great job for the clinic, and we worked to persuade the board to approve his appointment," Levin said yesterday. "We then realized, as it became clear how he was approaching the job, that we made a mistake."

Several senior staff members also have departed from Whitman-Walker in the past few months under Johnson.

The District has one of the highest AIDS rates in the nation and an estimated 14,000 to 17,000 residents who have not yet learned that they carry the AIDS virus.

Whitman-Walker has offices in Northwest and Southeast Washington, Hyattsville and Arlington. With an annual budget of $23 million, the agency offers comprehensive health and mental health care, housing, relief services and other assistance to more than 4,000 clients.