A survivor of childhood sexual abuse who used her own story to launch a nonprofit that went global stepped down as CEO just as Darkness to Light seems poised to become a national household name.
The day after Anne Lee announced her resignation, her brainchild charity announced a new partnership with some of the country's largest YMCAs. Darkness to Light, which began in 2000, works to prevent child sexual abuse by educating adults.
Lee cited "philosophical differences between her and the board of directors" in a prepared statement announcing her departure. She did not return phone calls Monday seeking comment.
Suzanne Hardie, chairwoman of the Darkness to Light board of directors, called the new leadership "a natural transition." She also stressed that the nonprofit's headquarters will remain in Charleston.
"It moves from the entrepreneurial founder who gets us started, puts all the energy needed to get it off the ground," Hardie said. "It's a different kind of leadership that's needed going forward."
Lee's replacement, chief operating officer Jolie Logan, said the organization has trained about 300,000 people to prevent child sexual abuse so far but now intends to train more than 10 million people in the next decade.
"In order to make this huge leap forward, it also means we have to transfer leadership," Logan said. She added that Darkness to Light must focus on operations and distribution as opposed to entrepreneurship.
Logan said Lee left of her own accord, not by a board vote, and gave her resignation Friday. Lee already formed a new agency called Greater Good Advisors, also aimed at fighting child sexual abuse.
Only Lee and Logan drew salaries greater than $100,000 at Darkness to Light, according to annual reporting returns from 2009, the most recent numbers available. Lee pulled in more than $116,000, a nearly $21,000 jump from what she earned in 2008. Logan, who joined Darkness to Light in 2008, earned $100,000.
Logan, a 39-year-old Mount Pleasant resident, previously worked as a consultant to small businesses to improve their leadership and growth potential. Prior to that, she worked in human resources at Blackbaud, the world's largest provider of software and services for nonprofits.
She now must report to the board of directors at Darkness to Light, a group that will decide whether to keep her on as the permanent leader or to launch a search for a new chief executive. She called the new partnership "a turning point in leadership" that happens at organizations that begin with an entrepreneur.
The new collaboration begins with 30 YMCAs in seven states, primarily in the Northeast. The Summerville and Georgetown YMCAs use the program, and the Charleston YMCA plans to train soon.
"This will be the biggest thing that happened to Darkness to Light," Logan said. "This would mean millions and millions of people impacted."
Lee, a 53-year-old James Island resident, gathered a group of community activists in 2000 to educate people about preventing child sexual abuse through awareness. She spoke openly about her own attack by a distant relative at a family reunion when she was 4 years old.
Libby Ralston, executive director of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center, credits Lee with helping spread a critical message.
"There's no question that Anne Lee, both in our community and across our country, has raised awareness about the prevalence of child sexual abuse and has carried the message that is so important: Kids can't protect themselves. That is the responsibility of adults."
Often asked about how her nonprofit related to Lee's, Ralston liked to say: "They make the phone ring, and we answer it."
As Lee departs Darkness to Light, her nonprofit now reaches people in 49 states and 15 countries.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or twitter.com/allyson jbird.