In an announcement today from the Board of Free Spirit Media, Jeff McCarter has officially step down from his role as the executive director.
As reported earlier, McCarter had been placed on leave while “serious allegations” against McCarter were examined and evaluated by the board.
Anedra Kerr was appointed as executive director in the interim.
Jeff McCarter is the Founder and was the Executive Director of Free Spirit Media, which he created in 2001 in order to share his experience as a media professional (Emmy Award-winning producer, cameraman, director, and editor) with young people from under-resourced communities.
As reported earlier, a group of former employees and alumni sent a petition on June 22, 2020 to the Board of Directors of Free Spirit Media, requesting a full investigation of McCarter. While the letter emphasizes that this is not an attack on FSM, it does cite allegations of “racism, sexism, misogyny, adultism and other forms of discrimination” as well as misuse of foundation funds on McCarter’s part.
Here is the board’s announcement today of McCarter’s resignation:
August 24, 2020
Over the past month, the Free Spirit Media Board of Directors has been working to address a series of concerns brought to our attention by some former participants and colleagues who worked in the program. We have had an independent third party conduct an investigation into these concerns, which included interviews with current and former members of staff, participants and alumni as well as with Founder & Executive Director,
Although the investigation found no evidence of unlawful actions, Jeff has recognized that the time has come to pass the baton of leadership at Free Spirit Media and has resigned from his role as Executive Director, as well as from his seat on the Board of Directors.
Jeff McCarter created Free Spirit Media in 2000, and his contributions over the last 20 years were important to providing access, education, and opportunity in media production for BIPOC communities in Chicago’s West and South Sides. During his time leading andgrowing the organization, Jeff helped build partnerships with community members, educational institutions, the media industry, and philanthropic leaders that allowed Free Spirit Media to pursue its mission.
Free Spirit Media was founded to uphold the principles of equality, inclusion and solidarity — We are committed to ensuring that our staff and program participants feel those values reflected in our workplace wholly and without equivocation.
Free Spirit Media will be conducting a national search for a permanent Executive Director while Anedra Kerr continues to lead and push us forward as interim Executive Director. We are also committed to ensuring that the communities we serve continue to have a loud voice on our board. Therefore, we will be looking to bring in new progressive leaders to join our committee.
We are grateful for your patience and support as we continue to navigate thistransformative moment for our organization.
On behalf of the FSM Board,