The Wall Street Journal reports that the New York City chapter formally rejected a plan that would have consolidated it and other local chapters into a single nationwide legal entity — a plan that local leaders in New York say would have dissolved the chapter's board, claimed its assets, and jeopardized its programming. For years, the local chapter had worked under a federation model, operating mostly independently while contributing 40 percent of all unrestricted donations to the national office in return for using the Alzheimer's Association name and logo.
The federation model "worked for a long time," New York City chapter president and CEO Lou-Ellen Barkan told the Journal. "Except, on one day, we got up and realized that on a net basis, we were paying something between $400,000 and $500,000 a year over and above what we were getting back from national." The decision to split from the national organization had long been a topic of discussion, said Barkan, but the idea gathered steam over the past year.
Stewart Putnam, chair of the national board of the Alzheimer's Association, told the Journal the organization's leadership decided — with input from local chapters — that a single structure was the best way to execute its strategic plan, address the threat of the disease, and ensure that the organization's programming across the country was unified. The fifty-three other local chapters have until January 15 to decide whether to join the consolidated organization.
Since the New York City chapter's own board approved a vote to disaffiliate, staff at the local office have been speaking with major donors and working on a new website, logo, and name. Until the new name is revealed in mid-February, the local chapter will be known by its legal name, Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders, New York City, Inc. When asked if the national organization would open a New York City office of the Alzheimer's Association, Putnam said it "intends to serve every part of the country."