Was it an amicable parting? “All I can tell you is he is no longer with the organization,” a charity spokesperson said in a statement.

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United Way East Ontario has turfed its longtime CEO, Michael Allen, with a terse, one-sentence statement that wishes him well and thanks him for “his work on behalf of the organization.”

Allen, 67, had been president and CEO of the United Way for more than 25 years and was a fixture of the region’s philanthropy scene. He was informed he was out on June 7 following an in-camera decision by the board of directors.

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“I can confirm for you that Michael Allen is no longer with United Way East Ontario; we wish him well and thank him for his work on behalf of the organization,” Mike Vlasveld, senior manager of public relations, said in a prepared statement.

Vlasveld would not elaborate on the reason for Allen’s departure. Was it an amicable parting?

“All I can tell you is he is no longer with the organization,” Vlasveld said. “Obviously, he was with the organization for a long time, did a lot of great work with us and we’re thankful for that and we wish him well moving forward.”

Stepping in as interim president and CEO is Dennise Taylor-Gilhen, who has been with the United Way for more than a decade, most recently as vice-president, of community impact.

Reached Wednesday, Allen said he is at peace with the board’s decision — but was told very little about why he was being let go.

“Honestly, there’s not a lot I can tell you,” he said. “I have a sense of it, but it was a very — I won’t say cryptic — but it was not a detailed conversation. I can’t tell you much, partly because of the circumstances and partly because I don’t know.”

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Details of his departure compensation are still worked out and will be subject to a non-disclosure agreement, he said.

Board members contacted by this newspaper refused to say more about Allen’s departure, citing confidentiality reasons.

Asked if he was accused of financial or sexual impropriety, Allen said: “None of those things were raised and, from my perspective, none of those could be raised. Not during the conversation or for the duration of my 25 years.

“Sometimes when these statements are put out as coldly as they are, it leads to speculation — ‘Something must be wrong here.’

“They certainly didn’t share that with me. I don’t think it’s there. I know in my heart it’s not there. Are there other things going on in terms of the agenda to move on this way? I don’t know. Maybe. But as far as I’m concerned, they’ve got nothing to do with me.”

Before taking the top job at the United Way, Allen, a Winnipeg native, was national director of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, and in 1993 appointed chief of staff to the Minister of Industry and Science and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada.

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At the United Way, Allen oversaw a turbulent and challenging time when donations plunged in response to competition from direct online fundraising by the charities themselves and the rise of online campaigns like GoFundMe. In 2017, United Way of Ottawa merged with other regional branches to form the United Way East Ontario. Where it once trumpeted the millions of dollars it raised in its annual fall campaign, its messaging switched to outcomes and the number of organizations it supported.

The organization’s 2023 annual report said it distributed $8.31 million in funding. In contract, in 1999, Allen’s first full year as CEO, the United Way of Ottawa raised $15.5 million, the equivalent of $26.9 million in 2024 dollars.

Allen said he was proud of the work he’d done for United Way and had previously offered to step aside voluntarily to help the organization transition to new leadership.

“I’m a little bit perplexed by how this has been handled, but I’m not in anyway regretting or lamenting leaving the organization,” Allen said.

“It was a bit of a surprise, but only in its timing, not its result. I’d be very pleased if I were in this situation under different circumstances, but we don’t always get to call the circumstances.”

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