Cay Sanchez, longtime executive director and one of the original founders of Art From Scrap — Santa Barbara’s longstanding eco-arts and educational nonprofit — was suddenly terminated Monday morning at the behest of the organization’s Board of Directors. All 10 boardmembers voted in favor of the termination. Sanchez, who worked for the organization 25 years, said she was given half an hour to box up any personal belongings and turn over her keys. She said the organization was going to pursue “a change of direction.” Sanchez said she’d been given no warning that her performance was lacking, but she acknowledged relations with the board over the past year had been rocky. She said she did not understand the cause of the turmoil. “I’m personally really offended, but I hope the organization survives,” she said. “And life will go on.”
During Sanchez’s tenure, Art From Scrap started as an independent nonprofit, was subsumed into the Community Environmental Council, spun out as an independent again, and last year was rechristened and re-branded as Explore Ecology. Every year, it teaches about 15,000 school-age kids about the natural ecology of the Santa Barbara watershed, stressing an interactive and playful approach. Replacing Sanchez as interim director will be Stephen MacIntosh, who formerly ran the City of Santa Barbara’s Environmental Services program before taking over as recycling director for the Republic waste management company.
Michael Hamman, the Explore Ecology boardmember who terminated Sanchez, said his version of events differed from Sanchez’s, but that he could not discuss the details, citing the confidentiality of employment relations. Hamman joined the board four months ago and runs a consulting firm specializing in helping businesses grow. “We’d like to explore a larger facility,” he said. “There are lots of ideas we would like to explore.” The core mission, he said, would not change. “Cay’s contribution to the organization is well recognized and appreciated,” he said. “And the board wishes her the best.”