By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on July 24, 2021
The Outer Banks Hotline announced on July 24 that Heather Chavez will become Acting Executive Director of the organization and that Executive Director Michael Lewis has been placed on administrative leave, effective July 22.
On July 16, the board had announced the retirement of Lewis, who had been with the non-profit for more than 21 years and had served as its Executive Director since 2015.
On July 21, the Voice published a lengthy story detailing allegations about Lewis’ workplace behavior and sexual harassment that led former Hotline Safe House Manager Katy Haslar to file a June 8 formal complaint against Lewis. The complaint was sent to the Hotline Board of Directors, which is chaired by Judy Burnette, as well as the North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement.
In reporting that story, the Voice interviewed and learned of other women who alleged inappropriate behavior by Lewis, including another formal complaint filed with Hotline Board about nine years ago.
The Hotline is a private non-profit that provides crisis intervention, safe house, advocacy and education services, often for women in abusive situations. Its financial supporters include the NC Department of Administration’s Council for Women & Youth Involvement and the NC Department of Public Safety.
In a statement accompanying the July 24 Hotline announcement about Chavez and Lewis, Board Chair Burnette added that: “Outer Banks Hotline’s mission is to promote a safe and compassionate community. Working together, Hotline’s dedicated staff and well-trained volunteers provide the community with support and crisis intervention in the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault response, prevention education, support groups, and community outreach.”