While the midterm election brought plenty of political changes to the U.S., other changes were afoot during this time. The Trevor Project has officially removed CEO Amit Paley from his position, effective November 2, 2022. The change comes from reports of staff dissatisfaction with the organization’s rapid growth and the burden of it placed on the backs of employees, as reported in Teen Vogue. Additionally, a letter signed by over 200 employees was submitted expressing the staff’s discontent with Paley’s leadership.
The Trevor Project’s board of directors instated Peggy Rajski as the interim CEO, while chair emeritus of the Board of Directors, Gina Muñoz will serve as Rajski’s special assistant.
“The Trevor Project is currently facing a period of transition, rethinking how to sustainably grow our 24/7 crisis services to respond to the public health crisis of LGBTQ youth suicide and address the mental health disparities impacting these youth,” The Trevor Project revealed in a statement to Teen Vogue. “In 2017, the organization averaged less than 200 inbound crisis contacts per day; in 2022, it’s averaging more than 2,000 crisis contacts per day.”
Paley’s removal comes on the heels of his controversy with pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma. Prior to working at The Trevor Project, Paley worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co. from 2011 to 2017. During his time at the consulting firm, one of Paley’s projects entailed supporting Purdue Pharma on boosting its opioid sales. This information was revealed as part of Purdue Pharma’s nationwide legal settlement.
Purdue Pharma has been at the center of the opioid epidemic raging throughout the United States. A 2015 study from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health highlighted that queer people were significantly more likely to misuse opioids than our heterosexual counterparts. A 2022 brief from the Trevor Project showed that LGBTQ youth under the age of 21 who misused prescription drugs were three times more likely to attempt suicide.
“Relentless attacks against LGBTQ youth and their families also continue to raise the temperature for our crisis services, advocacy, research, and education work,” The Trevor Project continued in a statement. “This intense climate has led to significant stress on our organization, and many members of our staff have raised concerns about workplace well-being, professional development, prioritization performance metrics, and resourcing compensation — particularly as they impact our BIPOC, transgender, nonbinary, and disabled team members. While a comprehensive, independent review of The Trevor Project is being conducted, the Board of Directors elected to make a change in leadership.”
Since information of Paley’s work with Purdue Pharma was revealed in July, Paley has released several statements regretting his time working with the pharmaceutical company. Ahead of his removal from The Trevor Project, Paley released a final statement.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to lead The Trevor Project’s life-saving team for over five years. The Trevor Project’s vital work is needed now more than ever and I will always remain deeply committed to the organization’s vision of a world where all LGBTQ young people see a bright future for themselves.”