SALT LAKE CITY— Sutherland Institute and Paul Mero are parting ways. After 14 years at the helm, Mero has been asked to step down as president by the Institute’s board. The decision is effective immediately, and the search for a new president will begin soon. Stanford Swim, chairman of the board, will serve as acting CEO until a new president is selected.
“Paul has served faithfully and effectively as he has led Sutherland Institute from its infancy to becoming the most influential conservative voice in Utah,” Swim said. “While the board feels this change is necessary as we move into the future, we are grateful for his dedicated service. We will continue to be guided by our seven governing principles that allow faith, family and freedom to flourish in Utah.”
Sutherland’s founder, Gaylord Swim, hired Mero in 2000, and Mero oversaw the growth of the Institute’s broad influence throughout the state. Previously, he worked for 10 years in Congress and was the founding executive vice president at The Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society. Mero has been instrumental in nurturing the World Congress of Families coalition and secured Salt Lake City to host its ninth gathering next year. He will continue to serve on the executive committee for World Congress of Families IX.
“Disagreements often arise between a CEO and board, and this is what happened here,” Mero said. “While disappointing, it became necessary. I have enjoyed every success and learned from every failure. Utah is a better place to live, work and raise a family because of Sutherland Institute.”
Mero produced a weekly segment that aired on KVNU 610 AM/102.1 FM for several years. Mero issued the following statement on his personal Facebook page Tuesday:
<em>After 14 years at Sutherland’s helm, the Institute has become the most influential conservative voice in Utah and, on several key issues, Utah is an ensign to the nation. Notwithstanding this success, exercising its prerogative, the board fired me – professionally, but unceremoniously.</em>
<em>There is bound to be speculation that some sort of malfeasance on my part must be at play in such an unexpected turn of events. In Mormon Utah – perhaps I should say, especially in anti-Mormon Utah – there is often a presumption that high-profile leaders must have done something scandalous to be so abruptly dismissed. Rest assured there is no scandal. I am the man everyone knows.</em>
<em>The reason for my dismissal is a remarkably simple one, at least as I understand it: Organizational disagreements resulted in a lack of board confidence in my abilities to lead Sutherland into the future. As the saying goes, there is no future in being right when the boss thinks you are wrong.</em>
<em>My time at Sutherland Institute has been a highlight in my career. I feel I have accomplished more, had more real impact, led more wonderful causes and people, and halted the enemies of freedom more in my 14 years at Sutherland than at any other time. I accomplished what I set out to do at Sutherland: Create the most influential conservative organization in the state, position it at the center of every significant issue we would choose to engage and win, win, win in defense of faith, family and freedom.</em>
<em>Admittedly, I’m disappointed. Sutherland has been my child and its colleagues my family. I love leading courageous people in great causes. And, let’s face it, if I’m not free to lead a great cause, the way I know it should be led, it’s best I move on.</em>
<em>Thanks to everyone for your love, support, friendship, collaboration, counsel, network, humor, push back and, most of all, trust in me. I have made wonderful friends in Utah over the years, in some cases despite significant political differences between us. Honesty, trust and accountability bind our friendship.</em>
<em>Meanwhile, there is still a great work for me to do with great people. Let me briefly catch my breath, survey the opportunities and I’ll be back on the playing field soon.</em>
Heading into the 2015 legislative session, Sutherland is working with elected officials and policy colleagues on issues that have a significant impact on Utahns.
Sutherland Institute is a nonpartisan, independent public policy organization located in Salt Lake City. As a state-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit, its mission is to protect the cause of freedom, constructively influence Utah’s decision-makers, and promote responsible citizenship. Sutherland Institute is recognized as the leading conservative think tank in the state of Utah.