Mercy Corps CEO named after ex-CEO resigned under pressure

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Mercy Corps has a new CEO, replacing a leader who resigned last year over the international relief agency’s handling of credible child abuse accusations against one of its founders.

Tjada D’Oyen McKenna will start Oct. 15, the Portland, Oregon,-based Mercy Corps announced Monday. “Mercy Corps is rightly recognized around the globe for innovative, bold responses to the world’s toughest challenges,” McKenna said in a statement.

Mercy Corps has workers in more than 40 countries and reaches 29 million people a year with its aid programs. McKenna has served as chief operating officer for the international nonprofits CARE and Habitat for Humanity International, Mercy Corps said in a news release. She also has specialized in addressing food security and world hunger in work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. government, Mercy Corps said.

She replaces Neal Keny-Guyer, who had led Mercy Corps since 1994, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Keny-Guyer resigned in October after an Oregonian/OregonLive investigation found Mercy Corps executives knew co-founder Ellsworth Culver had been credibly accused in the 1990s by his daughter of sexual abuse when she was a child but allowed Culver to continue in a top role for over a decade. Culver died in 2005.

Culver’s daughter, Tania Culver-Humphrey, asked Mercy Corps in 2018 to revisit her allegations, but Mercy Corps officials said records no longer existed and that the executives involved in the 1990s had concluded there was insufficient evidence to do more.

Keny-Guyer said he didn’t know of the allegations in the 1990s but did know about them when Humphrey reached out two years ago to Mercy Corps. Outraged employees pushed for Keny-Guyer’s resignation.