OBX Hotline names Chavez Acting Director, puts Lewis on administrative leave

By 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.”

SEE ALSO: Lewis’s Hotline exit follows harassment allegations, investigation





  • surf123

    For those who do not know…Administrative Leave is code for “you get paid to do nothing while we look into this”. For those of us working in the private sector this type of leave does not exist, except for possibly with union jobs. Public sector employees are shown the door immediately to reduce the companies exposure to legal action and to put an end to this type of behavior immediately. Another point is that those with legitimate complaints are fired and not allowed to retire, which in effect clears them amongst their friends as there were no findings.

    NC is a right-to-work state so they can terminate employment for any reason they see fit. I do not know any of the people involved, but when there are that many complainants there most likely is something there. One can only hope it is not true, but again lots of complainants does not look good.

    Saturday, Jul 24 @ 2:08 pm
  • Deb

    The board of Hotline needs to be replaced. It appears that they have not done their job properly.

    Sunday, Jul 25 @ 9:01 am
  • obxcharles

    I agree with Deb 100 percent. The board did nothing with the earlier complaint. And would have done nothing again, only announcing Mr Lewis retirement. Only because of media attention, do they even pretend to care.

    Sunday, Jul 25 @ 12:02 pm
  • There are more out there

    Thanks to the Outer Banks Voice for doing some digging. Otherwise someone who it appears has preyed on subordinates for years would have been allowed to ride off into the sunset with no recourse at all.

    The entirety of the board is responsible for anyone that’s been harassed since the original complaint. Dig. Not hard to find the info, it’s out there. That man does not deserve to just glide off into retirement. Should be criminally charged and if not civilly and file suit against the board as well. They all deserve their due if they turned a blind eye to it. How many others are out there…

    Sunday, Jul 25 @ 9:38 pm