Terminated: Commercial Closet's Executive Director 

Since early this year, Commercial Closet Association has been in negotiations with GLAAD to dissolve into one advertising media program overseen by the larger nonprofit. But CCA founder Michael Wilke says he was supposed to join GLAAD in this new joint venture. Then on Monday, CCA's board announced the merger -- and Wilke's termination...which Wilke says took him completely by surprise. The board says that's hard to believe and that Wilke was told he'd been terminated November 4.

BY Ross von Metzke

November 12 2008 12:00 AM ET

Michael WILKE Commercial Closet x100 | Advocate.com 

“The
intention was to see how the relationship would evolve given
CCA’s situation, given GLAAD’s
situation, and then really the burden was on the CCA
board," Giuliano explains. "They needed to dissolve as
an organization at some point before any legal transfer of
assets could take place.”

Wilke says he
never heard back from Giuliano despite repeated attempts to
make contact.

He says that
despite being told by his board of directors that
he’d be allowed to see the official release
announcing the merger before it was sent to the press,
his first look at the announcement was in the Ad Age
article.

Advocate.com was
the first LGBT news outlet to report the merger. Ad
Age
reported that Wilke had been terminated.

“His
employment with Commercial Closet was terminated for
financial reasons,” Blackwood says. “He
was not willing to share the books with the board
treasurer. He was not willing to add the treasurer to the
bank account so that there was some accountability. He
was directed by board resolution to do both. He said
he would, and then he changed his mind and said he
would not. Because we are required by [New York] state law
to transfer a debt-free organization to GLAAD, we had
to have access to the books.

“In an
effort to control the expenses of the organization, we made
the decision to eliminate the most costly item on our
annual expenses -- the executive director’s
salary.”

The editorial
director has also been placed on part-time employment,
Blackwood says.

Wilke says in the
days leading up to his trip abroad, his relationship
with the board had grown increasingly strained.

“We were
in tense times because of how they wanted things to progress
between me and them," he says. "They were focused very
much on financial matters. We basically were talking
about the frequency with which I should be reporting
the updates of our finances. They began to say they
needed greater control over everything. They continued to
try and force my hand, in a number of ways.”

Wilke says that
when the board originally proposed exploring a merger
with GLAAD, he was hesitant. After meeting with staff
members at GLAAD and finding out the nonprofit had a
five-year plan, including marketing and advertising
efforts to support the new joint venture, he says he came
around to the idea.

Tags: Business

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