ACM Had Strobel Find the Management Firm That Later Hired Her

ACM board sends out second e-mail on Coulter situation
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When Sylvia Strobel was hired as the executive director of the Alliance for Community Media in 2010, one of her assigned roles was to help find an association management company to oversee the alliance’s day-to-day activities. She did so; but shortly thereafter she left ACM — to work for that same management company and oversee the ACM relationship.
“The ACM hired Sylvia Strobel, and then she helped the search for finding an association management company,” Keri Stokstad, the alliance board chair, told Government Video. “This change in relationship [with Strobel] was consistent with Coulter’s usual business model,” said Stokstad, who added she did not understand why “the validity and authority of the ACM’s executive director, Sylvia Strobel, or the ACM’s use of an association management company [is being questioned] when this is a common structure.” Stokstad was responding to inquiries by Government Video.
When seeking an association management firm, ACM had conducted “an extensive search” for a management company, and the alliance had “several different options.” She did not say why the ACM settled on Coulter Companies, which has been its management firm since 2011 and provides “staff, infrastructure and support for ACM activities.”
She declined comment on whether it had been appropriate for the ACM to hire an association management company that would hire an alliance employee to oversee the same contract and only said it was Coulter’s “business plan.”
Government Video sought comment on this matter from Strobel—whom Coulter Companies lists as a vice president—and Tom Gibson, who is the chairman and CEO of Coulter Companies. Both were out of the office when Government Video called and left voice-mail messages for them. They have not returned those calls.
The relationship between ACM and the Coulter Companies is in the news because Coulter recently moved to terminate its contract with the alliance, as Government Video has reported. On Feb. 15, Coulter, which is headquartered in McLean, Va., and provides management services for 15 other non-profit organizations, notified ACM that it planned to end its current arrangement. Coulter Companies “did not give a reason for the termination,” Stokstad said.
On March 6, Stokstad sent a second e-mail—the first was sent Feb. 22—to ACM’s members providing information on the contract termination.
While much of the latest e-mail thanks Strobel and the Coulter Companies “for their wide-ranging assistance with many vital organizational and communication matters,” it also mentions the need for the ACM to adapt in order to stay fiscally sound, as well as how the board plans to deal with the situation. It says: “Circumstances over the past year have brought into sharp focus the challenges ahead, and the need to adapt the Alliance’s business model in order to remain financially viable and politically relevant.
“In the next update we will provide more information about the teams we are putting in place to facilitate this process,” Stokstad wrote. “This team-based approach will help us transition from where we are now to where we need to be as an organization that is effective in serving community media interests.”