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Leadership of Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth undergoing changes

The Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth on Wednesday reinstated its executive director, who earlier this month filed a complaint alleging that the nonprofit’s founder had misappropriated funds.

Meanwhile, founder Kathleen Vermillion said she would be leaving the partnership.

"I am too much of a liability," Vermillion said. "I care enough about this organization to step aside."

Vermillion said she had been speaking with other charitable groups about absorbing her organization, which provides services to homeless teenagers. Providing further evidence of conflict within the organization, the board said it is not engaging in any discussions with other groups about a possible takeover.

The partnership’s board of directors reinstated executive director Arash Ghafoori on Wednesday after he was placed on administrative leave Jan. 3.

Ghafoori filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office on Jan. 11 alleging misappropriation of funds by founder and Chief Operating Officer Vermillion. Vermillion said that the allegations brought against her are false and that she believes documents have been falsified.

"I am not stealing from my charity," Vermillion said.

According to an email obtained by the Review-Journal, Vermillion placed Ghafoori on leave "by unanimous vote of the executive committee."

Vermillion wrote "this action is solely due to an allegation that you shared employee health related information with a representative of Clark County."

Adam Levine, Ghafoori’s attorney, said Ghafoori was asked by the board to return to work on Wednesday.

Even as Ghafoori resumes his role, Vermillion said she is finalizing a "separation agreement" removing her from the partnership.

She said she does not want the organization to be punished because of the lawsuit she filed against Clark County and ex-boyfriend and Clark County Commission Steve Sisolak alleging defamation and invasion of privacy.

"The partnership receives more than $400,000 a year from the county for direct services," said Vermillion, who added she is on a medical leave of absence from the organization. "Given the mere fact that I filed the lawsuit and how ugly and specious the publicity has been, I don’t see myself as an asset to the agency and them being able to secure those grants next year. It is in their best interest that I step aside."

Vermillion said she has been meeting with other organizations to discuss a possible merger.

"Everyone can see where this is going," Vermillion said. "It’s going to inevitably be absorbed by a larger agency."

But the partnership released a contradictory statement that said the board of directors and the partnership’s management staff "are not in any formal or informal discussions with the WestCare Foundation and HELP of Southern Nevada to take over."

Terrie D’Antonio, president and CEO of HELP of Southern Nevada, said Vermillion contacted the organization Monday about taking over the nonprofit. D’Antonio even got permission from HELP’s board to discuss a "possible merger."

"If it is in the best interests of HELP of Southern Nevada and our current youth shelter, we would certainly look into it," D’Antonio said. HELP "will do anything that we can to assist when it comes to the kids."

HELP took over the Shannon West Homeless Youth Center, a shelter that houses up to 64 youths, four years ago when the couple who founded it retired.

WestCare CEO and President Richard Steinberg was unavailable for comment.

A statement released by the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth said, "NPHY services have not been affected by recent situations and continues to fulfill its crucial community function of serving countless youth in crisis throughout Southern Nevada with absolutely no interruption in service delivery."

Reporter Lynnette Curtis contributed to this report. Contact View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 702-387-5201.

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