Statement Regarding Late Mercy Corps Co-founder Ellsworth Culver
Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer
Portland, Ore. – The details of sexual abuse allegations made against Mercy Corps’ late co-founder Ellsworth Culver in The Oregonian are horrific. Had I known this information when I joined Mercy Corps as CEO in 1994, Ellsworth Culver would not have remained at the organization.
When Ms. Humphrey reached out to Mercy Corps in 2018, we had an opportunity to right a wrong. Instead, we failed her with our response. She should be commended for her courage in bringing these issues to us and we didn’t do enough to listen to her. We added to Ms. Humphrey’s suffering, and for that I am deeply sorry and profoundly apologetic.
I firmly believe that survivors deserve the benefit of the doubt. That belief is shared by our Board today as well. And I know we have a lot to learn from this situation about how to be a stronger ally to survivors of abuse. Every survivor - whether the daughter of a co-founder or a participant in one of our programs - deserves our greatest efforts to support them and uncover the truth.
To be sure we learn and live up to our commitment to survivors in the future, I have requested the Mercy Corps Board engage an independent, external review to be sure we learn all we can from how we handled Ms. Humphrey's outreach in 2018. I’m heartbroken that we failed Ms. Humphrey, and I’m determined that we learn all we can from our failures and do better.
As we move forward, my expectations for Mercy Corps are clear: we will be accountable, transparent and committed to our mission and values in every aspect of our work. We will humbly acknowledge that we always need to do more, to be better. That begins with me and extends to each and every one of our team members.