68° Good Morning
68° Good Morning
Long Island

Head of Long Island Council of Churches calls ouster ‘unjust’

The Rev. Dyanne Pina, executive director of the

The Rev. Dyanne Pina, executive director of the Long Island Council of Churches, addresses concerned Long Islanders convened for an Anti-Hate Conference in New Hyde Park, May 4, 2017, featuring local political, community and religious leaders. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The head of the Long Island Council of Churches was ousted from her position on Friday — a little over a year after taking over the main umbrella group of Christian churches on Long Island.

The Rev. Dyanne Pina said she was informed by members of the council’s executive committee during a meeting at the group’s headquarters in Hempstead that she was being removed from her post.

Pina, who said she was bringing a badly dysfunctional organization “into the 21st century,” said she was angered and shocked by what she called a firing.

“It is unjust,” Pina said in an interview. “I am outraged because I have given my full commitment to the work of the Long Island Council of Churches.”

A board spokesman said Pina was not “fired” — instead her position was eliminated — and that it was done for financial reasons.

“We all said it was a sad and difficult decision to make,” said Hank Boerner, vice chairman of the board of directors.

“We thanked her for great services and all the contributions she has made, but the mission is important and we have to be able to financially as fiduciaries carry out the mission,” he said.

Pina said that while the council is in a financially tight situation, it was not operating in the red and was paying all its bills and salaries — and that finances were starting to improve. Boerner declined to say what the group’s deficit is, saying it is “confidential information.”

Pina’s salary was $81,000 a year, she said. The council’s annual budget is about $750,000, with 13 employees, including some who are part-time.

About 800 congregations are members of the council, although only about 200 are active, donating money and in-kind services, Pina said. The council, formed in 1969, operates three food pantries, in Hempstead, Freeport and Riverhead, and provides other social services.

It also advocates on social justice issues and seeks to promote understanding and cooperation between Christians and non-Christians.

Shortly after she took over in June 2016, Pina shut down the council’s main food pantry in Freeport because of what she called “appalling” conditions that had gone on for years and included backed-up toilets, mold, holes in the roof and exposed electrical wires.

Pina eventually relocated the pantry to a building run by AHRC Nassau, a nonprofit that assists people with special needs and developmental disabilities. The two groups formed a partnership.

Boerner said the board thanked Pina, who has worked extensively for nonprofits, for her leadership in making the move. “It’s like a showcase pantry,” he said.

Boerner said the council will continue to operate in the near future without an executive director.

Latest Long Island News