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Questions surround New Horizons

Director who recently resigned cites unhealthy work environment at the nonprofit.

July 22, 2010|By Melanie Hicken, melanie.hicken@latimes.com

SOUTH GLENDALE — One week before city officials are due to give an update on a delayed project for New Horizons Family Center, revelations of financial troubles at the nonprofit suggest problems run deeper than mere construction setbacks.

When the acting director of New Horizons Family Center resigned suddenly last week, she warned the Board of Directors about late employee paychecks and other financial woes.

"I am also very concerned about the lack of monies being received and the unhealthy work environment," Angie Gonzalez said in an e-mail to board members and employees. "We continuously have to wait on payroll, and although I am financially secure, it is not fair to New Horizons Family Center staff, and I have honestly exhausted all excuses."

Gonzalez, a former executive assistant at New Horizons, had taken the helm after founder Maria Rochart unexpectedly resigned in April, a move she said was to avoid any appearance of a conflict with her new role as a Los Angeles County commissioner.

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Since Gonzalez's departure, at least one prominent board member has resigned, and there has been no announcement of a new executive director.

Former board President Rich Roche said this week that he resigned after Gonzalez's departure, but said it was in order to make more time for other commitments.

A receptionist at New Horizons said Rochart, who serves as board president, is out of the country and remains unavailable for comment. Board Vice President Ruth Charles could not be reached.

Next week, city officials are scheduled to brief the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee on the status of a number of federally subsidized capital projects, including New Horizons' delayed "Children's Village Nuestra Casa."

The nonprofit's long-awaited new children's facility has experienced repeated construction delays, more than three years after Rochart first secured the entitlements needed to move forward.

Construction was to begin last spring after years of planning delays, but the construction contractor said he has yet to get an updated schedule for the project — months after Rochart told commissioners they were set to break ground.

And New Horizons' outside accountant, Carlos Castro, said Thursday that the nonprofit had received an extension from the IRS in filing the latest financial information because "they were having troubles gathering the monies to pay for" the required audit.

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