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Baker removed as Crossroads executive director

After six tumultuous years, Crossroads Community Services Board Executive Director Dr. Susan Baker has been removed from her position with the organization.

The news comes after a lengthy history of controversy surrounding Baker’s employment with Crossroads.

In 2016, Baker was found to have violated state regulations after failing to notify the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services before terminating four employees shortly after arriving at the organization.

In October of 2020, former case worker Thomas Woodall alleged poor management at Crossroads had led to the possible suffering and death of a patient in an Amelia County group home as well as the physical abuse of two other patients.

Crossroads’ leadership has been scrutinized by current and former employees at several of the organization’s board meetings in the past year. In early April, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors agreed to withhold the mental health organization’s 2021-22 budget allocation of $60,000 during a Tuesday, April 6, budget workshop until Baker could provide clarity behind the organization’s housing plan issues.

In a Thursday, May 6, press release, the community services board announced Baker’s departure from the position, adding Pam Wallace will serve as the organization’s interim executive director while the board selects and employs a search firm to assist in a national search for a permanent new executive director.

When asked for details surrounding why the board voted to remove Baker, current Crossroads Board Chairperson Carmalita Escoto said she was not at liberty to provide any personnel information in relation to the executive director position.

“All board votes are public and will be made available when the minutes of the board meeting are finalized,” she said.

Escoto added the board anticipates it may take three to four months to locate and hire a new executive director. No changes in services are expected to occur as a result of the leadership change.

“We appreciate Dr. Baker’s contributions to the Crossroads Community Services Board and her dedication to the communities we serve and wish her well as she pursues other opportunities,” the release from the board said.

“As an organization, we have many strengths, including the will of our clients who come to us for help and the work ethic of our staff. Ms. Wallace’s stepping readily into interim leadership will permit us to continue uninterrupted service to clients and community members who depend on the Crossroads Community Services Board for help with substance abuse, mental health treatment, housing and developmental and intellectual disability services and programming.”

Woodall was pleased to see the board make the leadership change.

“Baker’s removal is a great step towards reducing the risk to vulnerable peoples,” Woodall stated Thursday, May 6. “I promised the community services board that once I am confident risk to the intellectually disabled people of this community is reasonably mitigated I would disappear. My confidence and the confidence of this community will be restored by this community services board closing the gap in its promises and performance, as evidenced by the quality of care of individuals served.”

Organized in 1973, Crossroads seeks to prevent and treat the occurrence of mental illness, intellectual disabilities, substance use and co-occurring disorders.

Crossroads’ board of directors consists of representatives appointed by boards of supervisors in Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.