HIGHTSTOWN: Job of Rise boss deemed safe

By Matt Chiappardi, Staff Writer
    HIGHTSTOWN — She may be under siege but the job of Lydia Santoni-Williams, executive director of local service organization Rise, is safe.
    That was the word Tuesday from Bill Gilmore, president of Rise’s board of trustees, when asked if her job is in jeopardy.
    However, Mr. Gilmore said there will be some changes coming to how Rise operates, but he said the board is not yet ready to release information to the press.
    Late last month, the board fielded a number of angry complaints during an open meeting at the Hickory Corner Library in East Windsor from former volunteers unhappy with alleged mismanagement of the organization by Ms. Santoni-Williams.
    The angry former volunteers specifically singled out the Greater Goods Thrift store, saying Ms. Santoni-
Williams has fostered a hostile environment there since Rise took over management of the operation in 2007, driving away volunteers and donations.
    One former volunteer, Marybeth McAlister, threatened to urge Rise’s funding sources to cut them off.
    Another, Pete Bussone, husband of Great Goods founder Kerrie Peterson, threatened to open a rival thrift store in town.
    After hearing those complaints, two board members, Nancy Walker-Laudenberger and Treasurer Randy Brown, acknowledged there are some problems at Rise and that the board would be discussing potential solutions.
    The comments at the meeting were preceded by very critical comments in letters to the editor and on the Herald’s Web site.