Last updated January 4, 2022

Open Letter from the Board of Directors
December 17, 2021
Timeline of Recent Events
December 20, 2021
FAQs from Preemptive Love’s Board of Directors
December 20, 2021
Decision Statement from the Board of Directors
January 4, 2022

Open Letter from the Board of Directors

December 17, 2021

Earlier this summer, a departing member of the leadership team contacted the Board and shared several concerns about Preemptive Love’s culture and leadership dynamics. 

As a Board, we took these concerns extremely seriously. We immediately gathered information related to the former employee’s claims and developed a comprehensive plan to investigate them. As a proactive measure, the Board also began the process of partnering with a respected outside agency to conduct a full organizational cultural review. 

As this process began, the Board received a letter signed by a number of former employees that included serious complaints about Preemptive Love’s founders, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney. This letter also made allegations related to race, gender and power dynamics. Although no accompanying evidence to support these allegations was submitted to the Board at that time, we responded to the serious allegations immediately and in earnest. 

The Board concluded that we needed to conduct a more thorough inquiry than previously planned, and we decided to launch a directed inquiry into Preemptive Love’s leadership practices, focusing specifically on the allegations raised. After researching and interviewing numerous firms, the Board selected Guidepost Solutions because of their international experience, their familiarity with NGOs and their reputation for thorough analysis. Both parties agreed that Guidepost should maintain total independence throughout the inquiry process, and at no time has the Board attempted to tamper with or influence their work.

As the inquiry was launched, Jeremy and Jessica agreed with the Board that they should take a leave of absence until the conclusion of the investigation, in order to protect the integrity of the process. They remain on leave as we have not yet learned the results of the investigation. During their time on leave, the Board granted a small number of carve-outs for which Jeremy and Jessica could remain partially engaged with their duties. These included areas that were vital to either essential programming or high-level organizational partnerships. They were removed from supervision, direct management, financial decisions, and ongoing day-to-day operations. 

Throughout this process, the Preemptive Love Board has openly communicated details about these matters in numerous emails to Preemptive Love staff. The Board’s goal at every step of the process has been to share as much information as we possibly can while honoring the confidentiality of all who have participated in this inquiry. We have hidden nothing. 

The Board has not yet received the findings of the investigation, but we expect them very soon. Once the Board has reviewed these findings and has determined the best course of action, we will have more details to share. No matter what we learn, the Board is committed to making all necessary decisions, no matter how difficult, to rectify any past missteps, renew our commitment to care for every team member, and ensure that Preemptive Love becomes a healthier organization.

The Preemptive Love Board of Directors is most grateful for the patience, resilience and hard work of our amazing staff during this season. They make our vital peacemaking work possible, and we could not be prouder of them. 

The Board of Directors,
Preemptive Love Coalition
12.17.21


December 20, 2021

Timeline of Recent Events

Earlier this year, the Board of Directors commissioned an independent investigation, evaluating a number of serious claims we received related to Preemptive Love’s leadership and culture.

The Board is grateful to those who brought these important concerns to our attention. It was a brave action, and we have done our very best to take strong, swift steps in response.

We are also thankful to have the resources and the opportunity to bring in global experts to help guide our journey toward a stronger and more vibrant organization. This work that we are undertaking not only will address lapses that may have occurred in the past, but also addresses areas of necessary growth that will position the organization to serve in a healthier and more sustainable way in the future.

Unfortunately, what has been communicated online about this process has contained misinformation and verifiable falsehoods. As a result, we are providing clarifying facts along with a timeline of events.

Although we reverently hold space for everyone to share their own experiences in their own words, we cannot endorse false information or misleading statements about Preemptive Love as it affects the ongoing good work of our organization.

Here is an outline of the steps we have taken from the beginning of this journey:

  • July 26: A departing member of the Senior Leadership team contacted the Board and shared several concerns about Preemptive Love’s culture and leadership dynamics. The concerns were raised from the standpoint of a concerned employee hoping to proactively alert the Board to areas requiring our collective attention. The Board acted immediately to gather information.
  • August 13: While we evaluated the concerns about organizational culture and leadership dynamics, the Board selected a respected international agency to conduct a full organizational cultural review. This organization, led primarily by women of color, has noted experience working with similar organizations in cross-cultural settings.
  • August 20: The Board received a letter signed by a number of former employees that included serious complaints about Preemptive Love’s founders, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney. This letter also made allegations related to race, gender and power dynamics within the organization. We took these claims very seriously. The Board concluded that immediate action should be taken. 
  • August 26: The Board voted to launch a directed inquiry into Preemptive Love’s leadership and the financial transparency related to a single donor project, focusing specifically on the allegations raised.
  • August 30: After researching and interviewing numerous firms, the Board commissioned Guidepost Solutions because of their international experience, their familiarity with NGOs and their reputation for thorough analysis. Both parties agreed that Guidepost should maintain total independence throughout the inquiry process. At no time has the Board attempted to tamper with or influence their work.
  • September 2: The Board decided that Jeremy and Jessica should take a leave of absence until the conclusion of that investigation in order to protect the integrity of the process. The Board allowed for a small number of carve-outs that were necessary to avoid disrupting our vital programming. Jeremy and Jessica agreed with the Board, and they remain on leave as the Board has not yet learned the results of the investigation. 
  • September 15: After the Board became aware of gaps in Preemptive Love’s People and Talent policies and procedures, including reporting grievances, a respected outside firm was engaged to review all employee-related policies and make detailed recommendations to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. 
  • September 15: The Board was approached by staff members who wished to share their experiences with the Board and with the investigative team. The Board offered to be the point of contact for any employee who would like to be interviewed.
  • September 16: The Board learned that the established process might raise concerns among those who wished to speak to interviewers, but wished their participation to be confidential. The Board immediately revised the path for participating in the investigation, and gave staff direct access to the investigative team for those who wished to contact Guidepost directly, while offering to be a direct point of contact for those who preferred to contact the Board first. 
  • September 17: The Board sent a follow-up staff communication with a direct channel to Guidepost for employees with concerns or a desire to be interviewed. This quick change demonstrated the Board’s commitment to make any adjustments necessary to honor and respect those who wished to share their experiences with investigators. 
  • November 2: Based on facts gathered, independent of the investigation, the Board engaged an external organizational expert to evaluate infrastructure and recommend modifications intended to increase accountability of leadership and enhance employee empowerment, communication and relations.
  • November 12: The Board commissioned an externally-conducted regulatory and compliance audit of international policies and procedures to supplement the investigation’s findings related to leadership.
  • November 24: The People and Talent team conducted a thorough analysis of compliance with Preemptive Love’s current policies and procedures. The Board was presented with necessary areas of improvement along with a six-month plan to roll out a comprehensive suite of revised policies. An organization-wide implementation of these recommendations is already underway.
  • July – PRESENT: Contrary to what has been asserted online, the Board has openly and regularly communicated with staff. Nothing has been hidden, and the Board has never sought to operate in secret at any point. Members of the Board have had numerous meetings with senior leaders and directors during this time to provide information. Additionally, the chair of the Board sent email communication to leaders/staff providing updates and details related to this process on each of the following dates:
    • July 30, 2021
    • August 2, 2021
    • August 4, 2021
    • August 16, 2021
    • September 1, 2021 (first correspondence)
    • September 1, 2021 (second correspondence)
    • September 2, 2021
    • September 13, 2021
    • September 15, 2021
    • September 17, 2021
    • September 29, 2021
    • October 20, 2021
    • November 29, 2021
    • December 16, 2021
    • December 17, 2021

FAQs from Preemptive Love’s Board of Directors

Posted: 12.20.2021

Q: In response to toxic culture allegations, what steps have been taken to evaluate the concerns about Preemptive Love leadership dynamics and organizational culture?

A: The Board of Directors developed a comprehensive strategy to evaluate and respond to the concerns that have been raised. After commissioning a cultural audit, the Board realized a more comprehensive evaluation would be most helpful to inform the next steps. So, the Board engaged a third-party firm for a broader evaluation that includes leadership, race, gender and power dynamics, and financial compliance. The Board is awaiting those results. 

The People and Talent Department is also crafting mandatory global training for every employee that is upcoming. In the meantime, the Board has engaged a firm to guide Preemptive Love’s People and Talent policies and identify areas that need further development. This comprehensive suite of policies will be rolled out globally within the next six months. 

Lastly, the Board has engaged an organizational expert to evaluate infrastructure and opportunity for the organizational structure to be more supportive of empowered decision making, team camaraderie and relationship.

Q: What are the next steps?

A: The Board is awaiting the findings of the independent investigation. Once they are received, the Board will determine if there is any additional information necessary that must be considered. The Board will gather that information and will also consider input from the global experts who have provided insight into the process- specifically organizational structure and People and Talent. Once the Board has synthesized all findings, the Board will make informed decisions about the next steps for the organization.

Q: Who has been fulfilling the functions of CEO and Chief Programs Officer?

A: While Jeremy and Jessica Courtney have been on leave, the Senior Leadership Team has worked closely with the Board of Directors to ensure that programming and provided services have continued without interruption. The Board has been extremely pleased with the level of talent and the skillful dedication of the entire staff. Imperative programming has continued across the organization, thanks to the expertise of the 149 team members across the globe.

Q: Is there a concern about the finances of Preemptive Love?

A: The Board has conducted an internal review of Preemptive Love’s finances and expenditures and does not currently have concerns about the organization’s financial integrity at this time. Additionally, Preemptive Love’s finances are comprehensively audited by Capin Crouse annually, and they have determined that Preemptive Love is fully compliant with USGAAPs. Additionally, the Board is awaiting the findings of the independent investigation, which includes a financial audit related to the specific claims made by former employees. The Board is committed to making any changes necessary to strengthen Preemptive Love’s commitment to financial integrity and stewardship.

Q: Why did you choose Guidepost?

A: Earlier this year, the Board decided to commission a third-party investigation into the specific and serious claims raised by former employees. After reviewing and interviewing numerous firms, the Board chose Guidepost Solutions. They are an experienced firm with a team of rigorous investigators boasting a sterling reputation in this field. Guidepost is also an international firm with experience working in cross-cultural contexts. We were paired with a team that is composed almost exclusively of people of color who are all very familiar with international NGOs.

Q: Who is on the Board, and why are they making these decisions?

The Preemptive Love Board of Directors is composed of six individual members who are listed online and can be found here. Jeremy Courtney has recused himself from Board involvement during this period and has not been involved in Board decision-making related to these matters.

Q: If Jeremy and Jessica Courtney are on leave, why are they still working?

A: When the Board initiated this process, the Board agreed with Jeremy and Jessica that they should take a leave of absence. And the Board also allowed for a small number of carve-outs that were necessary to avoid disrupting our vital programming. Jeremy has recused himself from the Board during this time and regarding these matters. 

Grant-writing and fulfillment of some previous grant requirements is a strong example of an area that is essential to the future of Preemptive Love that cannot be shifted completely from Jessica’s involvement. Those specific carve-outs have required their attention, so that programming could move forward and the organization could continue to fulfill our mission. They have been removed from direct supervision of employees, financial decision making, and any involvement with day-to-day operations.

Q: Are the allegations of former employees true?

A: The Board has commissioned a third party inquiry to closely examine the concerns that have been presented. Those conclusions have not yet been presented. In the meantime, the Board has been proactively evaluating policies and procedures that may be lacking and positioning our organization for stable growth in the future.

Q: Did the Board silence employees during the investigation?

A: No. All current employees were encouraged to share their experiences with investigators, if they were comfortable participating, to help the Board gain a full understanding of the situation and reach fact-based conclusions. The Board has prioritized confidentiality to ensure that anyone who would like to participate in the investigation does not feel hesitant due to internal factors (such as fear of retaliation) or external factors (such as being “outed” publicly as a participant). 

The Board has followed Guideposts’ standard requests to internally encourage employees not to share information pertinent to the investigation with each other while the investigation is still open. This widely-accepted protocol is meant to ensure that the process is fair and safe. If employees share questions that were asked by investigators, how they answered those questions, or speculation about the conclusions, it has the very real potential to influence the information that others might share. It also lessens the confidentiality of participants, creating a barrier to potential participation.

Q: Were employees screened by the Board before participating in the investigation?

A: No. When the inquiry began, we learned that employees may not be comfortable reaching out directly to the investigative firm. And, we learned that some employees wished to share their experience with both the Board and the investigators. We learned, quickly however, that others would prefer not to directly contact the Board. So, we made it very clear that there were options and that employees were welcome to reach out either way. We received some direct inquiries and realized the current process was insufficient, so we made an immediate adjustment.

Q: Why haven’t donors been communicated with in regard to the investigation?

A: The Board has not yet received the findings of the investigation. We expect to receive the results of the inquiry soon, and we are committed to transparency. Until that time, we do not yet possess definitive information to share broadly with our partners. Once the Board has reviewed the evidence and has drawn conclusions about best steps forward, we will share all relevant information with necessary parties.


Decision Statement from the Board of Directors

January 4, 2022

On August 20, 2021, Preemptive Love Board of Directors received a letter from numerous former staff members outlining serious concerns about the organization’s leadership and culture, including issues related to race, gender, and power dynamics. In response, the Board immediately initiated a comprehensive process to thoroughly evaluate and examine those concerns. 

The first milestone of our process was to engage an independent third-party firm to conduct an inquiry into these specific concerns and any additional concerns they deemed worthy of exploration during their investigative process. After interviewing several respected candidates, the Board selected Guidepost Solutions because of their international experience, the expertise of their team across many sectors and their insistence on operating with total independence. We granted Guidepost’s investigators complete autonomy and have greatly valued their thoroughness as well as their compassionate approach to the complexities of peacemaking communities. 

To protect the integrity of this investigation, Jeremy and Jessica Courtney (Founder/CEO and CPO) agreed with the Board that a leave of absence was appropriate until the findings were presented and the Board could formulate conclusions and recommendations. 

During this investigation, the Board has done our best to ensure that there was organizational cooperation and all necessary information was provided to investigators in a timely fashion. The investigators received every asset they requested from Preemptive Love. Dozens of people were interviewed, and everyone who participated did so voluntarily. 

The second milestone of our process was to designate a small number of Board-approved carve-outs for Jeremy and Jessica Courtney to engage with during their leave of absence. It was the Board’s intent to ensure that neither our staff nor the vital services we provide in vulnerable communities would be impeded during this time of leave. The Courtneys were directed to not engage with many of their typical responsibilities, including the direct supervision of personnel.

Another milestone in our process was to commission additional supportive services for Preemptive Love’s People and Talent Department. This included a comprehensive analysis of Preemptive Love’s policies and procedures, measuring them against industry standards and best practices. Where there were gaps, a roadmap was developed to move the organization forward in these areas over the next six months. Additionally, the People and Talent Department commissioned custom training for all staff, globally and in every language spoken by Preemptive Love employees. 

We reached another significant milestone on December 20, 2021 when Guidepost Solutions verbally presented the findings of their investigation to the full Board of Directors. Jeremy and Jessica Courtney were also present during this call. Because of our commitment to respecting the confidentiality we promised to every person willing to share their experiences, we did not review specific interviews during this presentation. Broad themes became apparent, and the information we received confirmed the information that the Board itself had independently collected and verified during this time. 

Although not every signatory on the original letter submitted to the Board felt comfortable participating in the inquiry, the investigative team was greatly encouraged by the many who did participate. They found participants to be passionate about the mission of the organization, sympathetic to complicated dynamics of our work in volatile locations and very helpful in providing facts and details needed to form conclusions and recommendations. 

Jeremy and Jessica Courtney will not be returning to their roles, or serving the organization in any capacity. We will have more information about this to share shortly. The Board did not disregard information received from current employees, former employees or advisors. We are grateful for all the input we received and the many who invested their time and trust to move this process along. 

We have also concluded that there are significant areas of growth that must be addressed for Preemptive Love to move forward in strength. These include:

-Organizational Culture: The Board cannot ask staff members to serve others with excellence in the name of peacemaking if the organizational culture itself is not healthy and vibrant. We must invest in our own community with the same heart and compassion that we invest in vulnerable communities around the world.  

Preemptive Love is committed to co-creating and cultivating a culture of belonging, inclusion, collaboration, equity and integrity. Our focus is to build a team that feels empowered and leveraged as leaders to successfully accomplish this very important and imperative work. We are also committed to strengthening our global humanitarian aid and programming efforts by recruiting and retaining highly qualified candidates to ensure effective and successful mission delivery. 

-Management and leadership skills: Every single employee of Preemptive Love, in every single location and position deserves to feel safe, empowered and resourced to execute the important function of their role and to show up fully as part of the rich cultural and professional tapestry that this organization has successfully woven over the years. This starts with strong management and leadership, at every level of the organization. Professional development for staff is a focus and top priority for the organization. Staff will be empowered through professional development and these areas will be a focus.   

– Professional development: Preemptive Love staff is deeply dedicated, passionate and wildly talented. The Board can only imagine the impact this team will have as they are leveraged and key organizational stakeholders are invested strategically. Additionally, all members of staff will receive training on basic tenants and will be engaged in an intentional dialogue building a global culture of respect, equity, innovation and productivity. 

– Organizational structure: To ensure that Preemptive Love is driven by the collective mission and not individual talent, it is imperative that roles, titles and responsibilities are reviewed and standardized. This is necessary so that growth can be scalable and sustainable in the future and the Board is committed to this investment. 

– HR training and compliance: There will be an HR organizational-wide training to ensure every member of the staff will be familiar with its purpose, function and compliance requirements both nationally and internationally. HR functions and policies are empowering, not restrictive, as these are in place to support and protect every individual and to ensure staff and organizational success. The Board is committed to a six-month plan, bringing every office into compliance with a handbook crafted in the primary language of that location so that the guiding spirit of HR is carried forward. 

– Transparency and accountability: While the Board is confident in the auditing procedures and the financial infrastructure of the organization, the Board also recognizes areas where there could have been greater transparency. This includes some public materials about the impact and the important work of Preemptive Love as directed by former leaders. Even still, we have heard countless stories about the importance of our mission and are confident that our long history of valuable work speaks for itself. 

Next Steps: 

To move forward in these areas, in addition to the resources that have already been engaged, we have commissioned an internationally recognized firm to guide every level of the organization into greater cultural health, uniquely supporting the Preemptive Love team in building a fortified future. That work will pair with our efforts at organizational alignment, ensuring that the leadership and management structure complements the mission and requirements of the teams. 

The commitment to improving organizational culture and delivering on the work that needs to be done can only be accomplished as a team. We are asking for the trust of staff, of partners, of supporters and our broader community dedicated to the important peacemaking and humanitarian work accomplished every day by this organization.  

As we reach this final milestone, we must account for the disruption our decision is likely to cause. We knew from the outset that whatever conclusion was drawn about the continuity of leadership, there would be many who would disagree. At every step, the Board has prioritized the health and wellbeing of our staff, supporters and the vulnerable communities we serve.

These changes are necessary for the future growth of this organization. We must hope that every person who has a relationship to this organization will continue to support the mission of Preemptive Love and those served.

Despite the challenges of this moment, Preemptive Love has the resources to move forward. After a thorough audit of the organization’s fiscal position, we are happy to report that Preemptive Love has stewarded past donations with integrity, and we will continue to engage an external accounting firm to perform annual fiscal audits. Furthermore, we are in a very strong and stable financial position to implement these necessary changes and build a sustainable future together.

The Board is prepared to entertain novel solutions to partner with groups or organizations to ensure sustainability and health. These solutions may include initial grants, seed investments, development assistance and the identification of new partners. Preemptive Love’s commitments will be fulfilled to the fullest extent of our capacities, and our important work will carry on. 

We remain focused on the mission.
We remain focused on the people.
We remain focused on peacemaking.

Sincerely,

Preemptive Love Board of Directors


*This page will be updated as necessary. All changes will be noted and dated.*