We value your comments and they helped shape the final document. However, because of the fear of retaliation many of you had, we did not forward those comments to Pathways. They are not being censored in any way, in fact they were very helpful in finalizing the language in the petition. Yes, we encourage you to go through the front door to the ED, Board, Community Council or use your tools: withholds/position statements/boundaries, etc with any individuals. Your comments are your voice to speak. Should the conflict be with the Board or Leaders, we encourage you to go to the Chairman of the Board, Mark Walker directly. We await a response from Pathways to the request for a Town Hall Meeting. Thank you for your energy and extreme love for Pathways. That's the common bond we all share.
The undersigned, all being graduates of the Pathways Core Training, Inc. training, are concerned about: the financial viability of the organization; the direction it appears to be taking; the concentration of authority and lack of accountability at the Board of Directors, Executive Director and Weekend/Walk Co-Facilitators level (the “Leaders”); the lack of transparency by the Leaders; the perceived lack of respect by the Leaders for the Alumni of this organization; the perceived culture created by the Leaders of “You Are Either With Us Or Against Us”; and the lack by the Leaders to display the respect for the sanctity of The Room. This latter point is particularly egregious, as outside legal counsel has questioned community members regarding events which may have transpired, and statements which may have been made, in the training room, after the training was completed and all comments closed on that class. So as not to generalize, set forth below are specific examples that cause the foregoing concerns. Further, the undersigned have specific solutions to resolve such concerns, which are offered after setting forth the concerns.
- Financial Viability
We have no knowledge how Pathways is doing financially. For those of the undersigned who have served on the Board of Directors, or served on the staff, we know: (i) there is a direct correlation between the number of fully paid trainees in all the trainings and the bottom line of Pathways; and (ii) with maybe one exception, January has been the month with the largest number of trainees in the Weekend/Walk for any given year. We believe only 35 trainees entered the Weekend in January and not all of those were fully paid (we don’t know because that data has not been made public). We believe 35 in January is a historically low number. We also believe there are (or should be) metrics that have historically and should currently formulate the number of fully paid/partial scholarship/full scholarship trainees throughout the trainings in a given month and on an annual basis that are required for Pathways to “break even” financially without fund raising events (again, we don’t know because current metrics are not made public but we do know such metrics historically existed).
What is the status of the various funds (Special Needs Family Fund, Military Fund, General Fund and Cancer/Caregiver Fund) to which the Alumni donate? Are those funds even in existence anymore? Who administers the funds and how are the funds being administered?
What happened to the tradition of Class donations to Pathways? We believe that tradition was abandoned in 2016, but we don’t know why or what program replaced that source of funds, which, at one time, was significant as each Class competed to be the largest donor.
Why are financials and required IRS Returns not posted to the Pathways website or otherwise made known to the community? A non-profit’s financial information is not a secret; in fact, those should be public records.
The simple fact is the undersigned, who have financially or otherwise been enthusiastic supporters of Pathways, have no knowledge of the current or projected financial condition of Pathways, but, based upon what we do know, it appears to us the financial condition of Pathways is in jeopardy and is headed in the wrong direction. See Transparency below.
Due to a lack of transparency (See Transparency below), we have no knowledge of the direction of Pathways. The Leaders simply are not communicating to the community what the objectives are and how those objectives can be achieved. It is not possible to enthusiastically follow Leaders when you don’t know where they are going. Remember the Winners and Champions portion of the Training?
We have been told by the ED that Pathways is no longer a “volunteer organization” but a “professional organization.” We have no idea what that means. We have been told the Leaders are actively working to create a “for-profit” extension of Pathways to deliver corporate type training, but we have not been informed of the “plan.” In fact, we have serious reservations with that concept on several levels. First, that plan, tried before, has never before been successful at Pathways. Second, Pathways converted from a for-profit to a non-profit due to the Spiritual nature of the Training. Third, Pathways the non-profit owns the Training materials and we have legal and emotional concerns about how new materials would be owned, used and protected for the exclusive benefit of the non-profit. Fourth, when attendance levels are suffering, why are the Leaders spending time on a for-profit venture rather than focusing on increasing the number of Trainees in the Room?
Direction requires leadership. Pathways has experienced a substantial turnover in Staff over the last year. Why is that? It is said: “people quit people, not companies.” Would the turnover in Staff and the rapidly declining number of Trainees in the Room point to a lack of leadership?
In the past, the Board held Town Hall meetings with the community, published Minutes of Board meetings on the website, emailed the community and called sponsors to inform them of personnel changes and sent Newsletters to the community to both inform the community of the Board’s direction for Pathways and solicit feedback (remember that portion of the Training?) to assist the Board in better serving Pathways and its community. We are informed members of the community have asked the Leaders to address issues and have been stonewalled, either with no answer or told the issue cannot be discussed. How would the community know what direction the current Leaders have for Pathways when the Leaders neither voluntarily communicate nor respond in an open manner? Members of our community have found they have been capriciously excluded from communications to the community, as well as invitations to community events, activities and opportunities to serve.
In the not too distant past, the then Leaders, in response to a Pathways community concern regarding concentration of power and lack of accountability at the Board level, established various Councils, an Advisory Board to the Board and the placement of Alumni on the Board in advisory, non-voting roles to de-centralize power, establish accountability at all levels of Pathways, and provide legacy authority to the Board.
The Advisory Board is defunct. There are no advisory, legacy members on the Board, and all the Councils, other than the Community Council, are dominated by the Leaders. The ED has suggested the Community Council is under review because it presents liability issues to Pathways. The Board is down to 3 members. Martin and Laurie, who were on the Board, now have new positions of power in the form of Director of Training and Director of Facilitators, although the Board has failed to communicate what those positions entail or to whom those Leaders are accountable. Do they answer to the Board or does the Board answer to them, or do they answer to the ED or does the ED answer to them? Who has the power to “tweak” the Training and, more importantly, if the Training is being “tweaked,” has the author of the Training been consulted?
The Board has hired a new ED with only Intern level Training experience to run an organization wholly dependent upon and expected to exemplify in every way the Training, and has permitted her to influence the Room in violation of the cardinal principle of Pathways: what is said in the Room, stays in the Room. Case in point: the Clayton Smith debacle. We believe that situation could not have been handled any worse than it was, was handled in violation of almost everything we consider sacred about the Room and in violation of the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. Since when did Pathways deal with issues in the Room other than by application of the Training tools? Since when was an Intern allowed to bypass the chain of authority in the Room (report to your TA and the TA, if he/she cannot resolve the issue, reports to the Team Captain)? Since when were third party attorneys allowed to investigate what was said in the Room? Since when, in our organization or in this Country’s judicial process, was the complainant also the Prosecutor, Judge and Jury? A legalistic approach in a heart based organization almost always backfires.
As the Leaders sit in judgment of the community, to whom are the Leaders accountable? Who grades your papers? We hope the answer is clear to you, if not prior to this Petition, at least after digesting it with your hearts open to our feedback. You do not own Pathways.
4. Transparency/Lack of Respect/Exclusionary Attitude
See all of the above. The undersigned believe the current Leaders lack transparency across the spectrum and have created a legalistic environment. The standard response to questions has become: “We can’t discuss that because…” it’s a Board matter, or it’s a personnel matter or that’s confidential information, I’ll get back to you later on that or some other excuse. There are indeed some matters that are confidential, but confidentiality should be used as a shield, not a sword.
Unfortunately, there is also a strong perception that asking questions and challenging the current Leaders will lead to retribution in the form of not being allowed to TA, Facilitate, be on staff or even volunteer. The undersigned see an attitude of “You are either with us or against us” among the Leaders. Example: a member of the Pathways community was asked by the ED to share concerns. After two short conversations, that community member was removed from the Training and subsequently “blackballed” from even attending Pathways events.
5. Lack of Sanctity for the Room
Members of the community have expressed to the undersigned their reluctance to sponsor family or friends to the Training because the Room is no longer safe and some have expressed their belief God is no longer in the Room. That is more than sad: that feeling among the community will kill the mission. To believe in the mission of Pathways requires confidence that what is said in the Room, stays in the Room, and that God blesses this training. God can protect the Training far better than policies and procedures.
A concern is not useful unless it is combined with a proposed solution. The undersigned propose the following solutions, some of which overlap more than one concern.
A. Expand the Board of Directors to at least 7 by the end of February and to 11 by the end of August. Nominations should be requested from the community via the website and a Newsletter. The nominations should be directed to a Nominating Committee of 5 comprised of senior members of the community, none of whom should be the current Leaders or paid staff. The Community Council, along with an equal number of community members, who do not currently act as facilitators, or fill a leadership role within the community, shall bear responsibility for appointing members of the nominating committee. This nominating committee shall be reconstituted on an annual basis.
B. Rotation of Board Members and Council Members should be enforced.
C. The Community Council should be expanded, not eliminated. While some may feel the Community Council presents “liability issues” for Pathways, we believe, unless the direction of this ship is altered, there will no Pathways for liability issues to affect. The Community Council should be representative of the community and comprised of TA’s and active community members, rather than populated by long standing facilitators, and prior staff members. Term limits for the Community Council must be defined, publicized, and enforced.
D. The Advisory Board should be re-established and serve as the training ground for future Board members.
E. A Members Section should be added to the new website where the Bylaws, meaningful monthly financial information (including an accounting for sources and uses of donations) and required Federal and State filings will be posted and explained either on the website, in Newsletters or at Town Hall meetings.
F. Town Hall meetings should be held quarterly, with all members of the community invited.
G. An Organizational Chart depicting the hierarchy of authority and the responsibilities of each Board, Council, and key staffers should be published and updated continuously, on the website in the Members Section.
H. The hierarchy of and responsibilities within the Room should be printed and discussed before each Training with every Facilitator, PC, Team Captain, TA and Intern so that every everyone in the Room, other than trainees, understands the Rules of the Room. The Rules of the Room should be published on the website in the Members Section. If changes to the long standing hierarchy of the room are to be made, they should not be unilateral modifications by the executive director, whose lack of experience in the room and with the training has been identified.
I. The Rules of the Room should be followed, with no exceptions, including Facilitators and staff.
J. The new Members Section on the website should be interactive so feedback can be given by the community and someone on staff should be responsible for providing timely and meaningful feedback.
K. There should be limits on the number of Training Teams any Facilitator, PC, Team Captain, TA or Intern, including staff, can serve in a 12 month period. To accomplish that in the near term, a focused effort must ensue to train no less than 3 Facilitators for each Training, including the Weekend/Walk. The current Leaders are requested to trust the process: there are several community members who can Facilitate the Weekend/Walk. It is our opinion, that a vigorous recruitment, training and mentorship program for leaders and facilitators is necessary for the health of, and long term viability of, our training.
L. No changes should be made to the Training Syllabuses’ without seeking the advice of legacy members of the community, to include members who were trained by Dr. Phil in the study of the Weekend/Walk Syllabus and/or who participated in the writing of the other Syllabuses.
M. No new trainings should be created by the staff without seeking the advice of legacy members of the community.
We petition you, our Leaders, to accept this feedback with the same heartfelt attitude that we are delivering it, and embrace our suggested solutions with an open mind, an open heart and with humility. We also expect a prompt, meaningful and heartfelt response at your earliest possible convenience, but no later than ten (10) days after your receipt of this Alumni Petition, as time is not our friend. The survival of the Training as we know it is our only objective.
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