The Trevor Project board of directors has removed Amit Paley as CEO effective immediately, a source close to the LGBTQ suicide prevention organization confirmed.
Paley was removed from his post on Wednesday, November 2. According to the source, staff dissatisfaction, particularly as it relates to the organization’s quick large-scale growth and the burden it put on employees, led to the decision. Many staffers had signed a letter expressing this dissatisfaction prior to Paley’s removal, the source confirmed. (Two additional sources told Teen Vogue over 200 employees signed this letter.)
The board has named Trevor Project co-founder Peggy Rajski as the interim CEO. Gina Muñoz, chair emeritus of the Board of Directors, will serve as her special assistant. Paley’s name has already been removed from the leadership team on the website.
The move comes a few months after Paley’s controversial previous work with the opioid maker Purdue came to light, and after Teen Vogue reported employee dissatisfaction at the company regarding his leadership and management.
Paley worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Co, including on projects advising Purdue on how to boost their opioid sales. This work became widely known in July after HuffPost and Teen Vogue reported it based on documents released as part of a nationwide legal settlement with the pharmaceutical company. Several staff members at the Trevor Project told Teen Vogue that they found Paley’s previous work hypocritical given the mission of the suicide prevention organization he most recently led.
“The Trevor Project is currently facing a period of transition, rethinking how to sustainably grow our 24/7 crisis services to respond to the public health crisis of LGBTQ youth suicide and address the mental health disparities impacting these youth. In 2017, the organization averaged 20 inbound crisis contacts per day; in 2022, it’s averaging more than 2,000 crisis contacts per day,” The Trevor Project said in a statement to Teen Vogue on Friday evening. “Relentless attacks against LGBTQ youth and their families also continue to raise the temperature for our crisis services, advocacy, research, and education work. This intense climate has led to significant stress on our organization, and many members of our staff have raised concerns about workplace well-being, professional development, prioritization performance metrics, and resourcing compensation — particularly as they impact our BIPOC, transgender, nonbinary, and disabled team members. While a comprehensive, independent review of The Trevor Project is being conducted, the Board of Directors elected to make a change in leadership.”
“Until a permanent CEO is identified, Peggy Rajski, Founder of The Trevor Project and longtime board member, will serve as interim CEO. Gina Muñoz, Chair Emeritus, will act as Special Assistant to the Interim CEO,” the statement continued. “The Trevor Project remains committed to focusing on our core mission and the LGBTQ youth we serve, as well as ensuring The Trevor Project is a safe space for all.”
Paley expressed regret about his previous work in an internal memo sent to staff after his work for Purdue was initially reported this summer, and echoed these sentiments in a previous statement to Teen Vogue. “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have agreed to do any consulting work for [Purdue] and I regret that I did,” he said.