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Humane Society abruptly terminates CEO Stolen

August 1, 2018
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The Humane Society of Indianapolis has abruptly fired Steven Stolen just 14 months after he became CEO of the animal-welfare organization.

Stolen told IBJ on Tuesday night that board chairman Kyle Masur called him on Monday to tell him he “was being terminated.”  

“I was surprised to hear this news as we've made substantial progress in 2018 in every important area as articulated by the Board,” Stolen said in an email to IBJ. “Mr. Masur and the Board disagree and have made that clear.”

“While I do not agree with Mr. Masur's assessment and course of action, I understand that it is absolutely the providence of the Board to take such action and respect their right to do so,” Stolen said.

Masur sent IBJ a statement on Wednesday night, saying, “We do not discuss personnel matters publicly. We thank Steven Stolen for his work at Indy Humane and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Stolen, 60, built a lengthy resume in arts, education and not-for-profit leadership and fundraising before joining the organization, which began calling itself IndyHumane earlier this year.  

He took over as CEO in June 2017, replacing John Alshire, who was credited with helping the not-for-profit execute a major financial turnaround in his eight years in the job.

Stolen said he thought the organization's financial situation was improving.

“With the support of loyal and many renewed and new donors we surpassed the 2017 development budget goal,” he said. “I've been fortunate to work with great colleagues and shared in their dedicated work to address a long-standing and severe budget deficit, cutting it nearly in half by the end of 2017, and projections in July are on target to make significant inroads on that front in the current year.”

The organization reported $7.9 million in revenue in 2017 and $7.2 million in expenses. It employed 122 people on a part-time or full-time basis last year and had 417 volunteers.

Stolen received $80,000 in compensation for seven months of work in 2017, according to public records.

Expenses rose almost $2 million in 2017, compared with 2016, but revenue increased more than $3 million.

“The staff has responded positively to the Board's implied mandate to change and we've made some important capital improvements to positively impact animals, guests, and IndyHumane's top notch staff,” Stolen said. “I'm equally happy with our fun and effective efforts to elevate the organization through social and earned media especially as it positively impacted our signature Mutt Strut event.”

Before joining IndyHumane, Stolen was vice president of corporate advancement for the Indy Chamber, a position he took in September 2015.

He previously held leadership and fundraising positions at not-for-profit charter-school network Rocketship Education, the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Indianapolis Children's Choir and Butler University.

He also was chairman of Butler’s School of Music and Jordan College of Fine Arts and served as an independent consultant to the Indianapolis Opera and the Julian Center.

He has worked at WFYI-FM 90.1 for more than two decades, hosting music shows “Opera Matinee” and “Stolen Moments.”

Stolen said he wanted to “emphasize that the people that work and support IndyHumane are outstanding in every way and it was my great pleasure to work on their behalf.”

“I am looking ahead to my next opportunity to impact my community,” he said.

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