Organizational Assessment with Pellucid Consulting
Dear Sacred Wilderness & BBTB Community,
Over the past 5 months Sacred Wilderness has participated in an organizational assessment with Wade Mullen’s company, Pellucid Consulting. We chose to do this assessment due to claims that we provided an unsafe environment in regards to power dynamics by our former employees, who started working for SW on October 1, 2022. This claim came on January 12, 2023, via email, when the employees asked that their soul care provider, Kyle Howard, mediate a conversation between us, because they no longer felt safe speaking to us. SW was shocked by the escalation but immediately agreed to mediation with an independent third party, done by someone other than Kyle Howard for several reasons that, in our opinion, were conflicts of interest for all parties.
When a claim was made on Twitter that we provided an abusive work environment it confused our entire organization. Although, over time there was clear workplace tension over decisions made by the Board that they did not agree with, we were fully transparent and under the impression that this was a conflict we were all working on. The tension came specifically from an event our sister organization, Bodies Behind the Bus Podcast, held to benefit SW on December 13, 2022. The employees did not agree with who we chose to lead this event because he is a white, former pastor. The speaker was a trusted friend of our board, has given countless hours of care to survivors in our community, and is known for having immense integrity. Our former employees have since claimed that it was an abuse of power for us to choose to continue forward with that event. We were willing to do whatever it took to work with our employees towards resolution. On January 27, we hired Pellucid Consulting to do a full organizational assessment to learn how we had gotten to the point of so much tension with our employees. We turned over all documentation between us and all parties involved in its entirety and continued to do so throughout the duration of the assessment. We have had nothing to hide during all of this, and we truly did want to right any wrongs that may have occurred on our part. On the same date that we hired Pellucid, our employees let us know of their intention to resign. After back and forth communication, the employees submitted their resignation, and their last day of work was February 28, 2023. This was after 2 months of refusal to dialogue outside of email correspondence.
We stand behind the decision to do an organizational assessment with Pellucid Consulting. We chose to do it because we want to model with integrity what any organization should do in a similar situation. SW has only existed for 1 year, but we have provided thousands of dollars for survivors to receive safe, proper care. We care so much for the abuse survivor community. None of us, aside from our former employees, has received any compensation for our work in this space. Our hope was that by bringing on staff, SW would be able to provide even more funding for mental health services for survivors. If we had done something wrong that perpetuated an unhealthy system– we wanted to know right away. We wanted to change any wrong behavior because we care deeply about the work we do. We have issued the full assessment publicly on social media and our blog for anyone to read. The report indicates that there was no abuse and we did not foster an abusive work environment. You can read in detail what recommendations were made for us in the report (and we were certain it would have recommendations), but here are shortened versions of the things that Pellucid pointed out:
Maintain and enforce a practice of only giving care or scholarships for outside care that is provided by licensed or supervised professionals.
Make improvements to board composition.
Establish a comprehensive plan for how the board will govern prior to bringing on any future paid employees.
Continue to seek out training in areas that will assist SW in the fulfillment of the organization’s purpose.
Pellucid recommends that the board of SW take time to process this report with a trusted professional who can help them assess the impact of these events and determine healthy and feasible steps for moving forward and implementing these recommendations.
To read the analysis regarding accusations made against SW, begin reading the assessment on pg. 29 as notated in the table of contents.
Something else we feel needs to be addressed is that our organization and members of our organization have been publicly libeled and maligned for the last several months by multiple individuals, mainly via Twitter. We have chosen to be silent so that we did not damage the integrity of this assessment, but these last few months have broken us. There have been hundreds of malicious tweets written about us, and most of them are lies or false claims. Here are just a few (most of these are mentioned in Pellucid’s report as well as many others):
Kyle Howard said that he provided services for Sacred Wilderness for free. His co-counselor also claimed that he offered to do a power dynamic training for us, and we chose not to do that. This was claimed in multiple tweets. This is false. We have receipts for over $600 in work for which we paid him. We have an email discussing his list of trainings and the thousands of dollars it would cost to put together a custom training. Power dynamics was one of the options on that list, but by no means was offered to us for free.
Kyle Howard has personally tweeted many hurtful lies towards one of our founding members, Johnna Harris, including tagging her in an email claiming that she was fearful Kyle would try to sexually assault her. This is just one example of hundreds of tweets that we have screenshots of directly targeting Johnna or her work.
Our former employee tweeted on multiple occasions that we chose to do an assessment over an investigation. He said that was wrong because since abuse claims had already been made we should have gone straight to an investigation. We interviewed and reached out to several corporate investigation companies, both secular and non-secular. After reviewing our situation with associates of three companies, none of those companies thought we qualified for an investigation. Things they brought up were that we “were not a company with a history of abuse,” “this is too small for them to take on,” and “this just sounds like a corporate conflict where you need to amicably part ways and move on.”
There are so many examples of harmful things said about us that could have been included, but we encourage you to read the report to see more, specifically pages 38-48.
All of the lies and false claims have not just impacted us but the survivor community as a whole. We think this quote from the report sums it up best, “The matters addressed in this assessment have impacted people in a variety of ways. It is important to acknowledge and consider these impacts as leadership attempts to make sense of what is true and the best path forward. Harm that occurs in a previously safe and restorative environment has the effect of reducing the wounded person’s ability to rely upon that environment for future healing and support. Multiple people who spoke to Pellucid expressed concern with how public statements have caused confusion and uncertainty within the survivor community as trusted individuals were being called out.”
We should all have a common goal to look for and share the truth, and we are hopeful that sharing a thorough, unbiased report by a credible third party restores trust and brings healing within the survivor community. Below are just a few quotes from the report that shed light on the truth in regards to what the former employees claimed about SW. These can also be found in the report starting on page 30 under the section entitled “ANALYSIS OF CONCERNS RAISED BY FORMER EMPLOYEES AND THE RESPONSE OF LEADERSHIP”:
“The BBTB podcast is operated by the same four individuals who make up the board of SW. However, the board has not sought to hide this reality and this assessment did not find any support in the information reviewed to suggest that the board has wrongfully or unethically benefited from their roles in both BBTB and SW.”
“The former employees claimed they ‘communicated these sincere and legitimate concerns as employees of SW trying to do our job by looking out for the well-being and reputation of SW’ and that in response to these concerns, SW leadership ‘functionally chose to prioritize’ their ‘BBTB platform and to protect, defend, and advocate for’ the event guest over the former employees. The information reviewed does not support a finding that SW leadership wrongly prioritized the BBTB platform or the event guest over the former employees.”
“The information reviewed does not support a concern that the board of SW allowed or promoted ‘unhealthy power dynamics’.”
“The former employees claimed that the board of SW wrongly accused them of breaching confidentiality after the former employees and their soul care provider separately informed the board the former employees had shared organizational documents and correspondence with their soul care provider. SW leadership responded to the clear acknowledgement by both the former employees and the soul care provider that the former employees had provided the soul care provider with organizational documents and correspondence which the soul care provider referenced as evidence of mistreatment in his offer to mediate a conversation. Given the soul care provider is not a licensed mental health professional and not under any obligation to protect entrusted information, and given the sensitive nature of the work of SW, it was right for the leadership of SW to express concern regarding this disclosure.”
“The former employees claimed the board of SW had ‘wronged and done serious damage’ to their desired mediator. SW appropriately and respectfully declined the active solicitation of mediation from the former employees soul care provider. Even if both parties had agreed to engage with the soul care provider as the mediator, the mediation should not have proceeded…”
We hope that all of our community will choose to read this assessment in its entirety (attached below). We will be using the recommendations as a charge for us to do better, and we will actively be working towards completing them. Additionally, we will be using this report as a foundational building block to help us stay focused on our mission which has always been “existing to provide healthy resources and funding for care for those who have been spiritually abused within their church or faith setting.” We hold our heads up high and continue to fight for spiritual abuse survivors and their worth.
Thank you for your time,
The Sacred Wilderness Team