Former Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno is out as head of the food bank she runs at the Jersey shore, with leaders of the non-profit organization deciding to go in a different direction.
Fulfill Monmouth & Ocean County will soon begin a search for a new president and CEO, parting ways with Guadagno after just two years, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the board’s intent who spoke to the New Jersey Globe on the condition of anonymity.
Guadagno faced heavy criticism last month for failing to apply for COVID-19 relief funding administered by Monmouth County under the CARES Act. That followed Guadagno’s own letter chastising the Republican-controlled Board of Commissioners for not sending stimulus funding to her non-profit.
The lack of a funding application by Guadagno, the 2017 Republican nominee for governor, was first reported by the Asbury Park Press.
Strained relationships between Guadagno and county elected officials has left some Fulfill board members concerned that the former Lt. Governor might cause them to lose future county funding, especially after Monmouth County obtains additional funding under President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package.
Board members have also grown frustrated with Guadagno’s partisan political activity, including her endorsement of Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-Holmdel) in opposition to a move by GOP leaders to drop the two-term lawmaker from the organization line.
Lauren Holman, the chair of the Fulfill Board of Trustees, declined to comment on Guadagno’s future with the organization.
The non-profit served about 215,000 food insecure people, up about 58% from where they were before the coronavirus pandemic.
Guadagno ran for governor in 2017 after eight years as Chris Christie’s Lt. Governor. Democrat Phil Murphy defeated her by 303,527 votes, a 56%-42% margin.
After leaving office in January 2018, Guadagno’s first stop was as a partner at Connell Foley, a major New Jersey law firm. While her name remains affiliated with the firm, she left their full-time employ in May 2019 to join Fulfill.
Guadagno did not immediately respond to an 8:08 PM text message seeking comment.
Update: in an email on Friday afternoon, Guadagno said that her ” commitment to Fulfill, the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties is coming to a close.” She downplayed the circumstances of her departure.
“Many of you know that I served as Fulfill’s first President and CEO while also practicing law. As my commitment is up, I have decided to return to the firm. I will spend some time helping to select my successor but I am confident the organization is in great shape. “It was a privilege and an unexpected challenge to guide the FoodBank throughout the pandemic,” Guadagno said. “I can comfortably say the next phase of growth is now upon us as Fulfill embarks on a new strategic plan and a capital campaign. I could not commit to seeing all of that through. So, it is time for me to focus on my practice.”