SPRINGFIELD — The embattled Land of Lincoln Goodwill CEO who laid off several disabled workers in response to Illinois’ recently passed statewide minimum-wage hike submitted her resignation to the nonprofit’s board of directors Thursday.
In a three-paragraph announcement sent to media outlets early Thursday evening, the Goodwill board accepted Sharon Durbin’s resignation effective immediately, appointed finance VP Ron Culves as her interim successor and emphasized the thrift-store chain’s commitment to “our 400 employees and to those individuals with disabilities, veterans, at-risk youth, ex-offenders and those seeking job training assistance that we serve.”
The action came during a tumultuous week for Springfield-based Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries, following a WCIA-TV report Monday about the decision to lay off workers due to the minimum-wage increase, which will incrementally rise to $15 an hour by 2025.
On Wednesday, Durbin reversed course on the layoffs, which she referred to as a “decision to refocus the Vocational Rehab program.”
“Our recent decision regarding the Voc Rehab program and the resulting harm it might have caused falls short of living up to our mission, and we apologize for this error in judgment,” she said in a statement Wednesday. “We are reversing the decision to realign our Voc Rehab program and those participants affected will return to their part-time skills-training program with pay.”
Her reversal came amid criticism from state lawmakers, who had called for a review of contracts and funding awarded to Land of Lincoln Goodwill.
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, called on Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou to review $400,000 in taxpayer-funded contracts between the state and Land of Lincoln Goodwill.
Meghan Powers, a spokeswoman for Human Services, said the department’s “top priority” is to “ensure that the hardworking employees with disabilities at the Land of Lincoln Goodwill stores are employed and appropriately supported.”
Legislators also took umbrage with Durbin’s salary, which was $164,849 in the fiscal year ending in June 2018, according to federal 990 forms. Durbin’s son, Brian, was hired onto the company’s executive leadership team at a salary of $95,747, WCIA reported.
Manar’s office said tax records show Land of Lincoln Goodwill raised executive compensation for two positions during the height of the state budget impasse by $86,155 over three years.