Kym Hughes resigns as director of Fayetteville A&P Commission

Kym Hughes / Courtesy photo

Kym Hughes has resigned as the executive director of the Fayetteville A&P Commission after less than two years on the job, according to a news release.

Hughes submitted her letter of resignation Monday. She will keep her position until July 1 to help transition the commission into new leadership.

“At this time, I must turn my attention to my family and move closer to be near to them,” Hughes wrote in her letter.

Hughes was hired in December 2014 to replace Marilyn Heifner, who had led the commission since it was formed in 1992. Hughes was the former executive director of tourism and hospitality for the city of Sandy Springs, Georgia. She was one of over 50 applicants for the position, and was given a starting salary of $85,000, plus $5,000 in moving expenses, and a standard benefit package.

Her resignation comes after two private, executive session meetings held by the commission as part of an apparent series of disciplinary hearings for Hughes and Kate Johnson, director of the Clinton House Museum.

The commission has met twice in executive session since April to discuss possible disciplinary action of the two directors following the conclusion of a recent commission-wide employee evaluation.

The commission earlier this year agreed to outsource its human resources department to Van Buren-based HR firm SPMI. The decision was part of a restructuring of certain aspects of the group following the resignation of Heifner.

At the time, commissioners said they’d heard from some employees who didn’t feel comfortable discussing interoffice conflicts with their directors. As a remedy, the group agreed to hire a third-party human resources firm to handle such issues while also helping to re-write the commission’s employee handbook and implement some standardized HR procedures.

On the published agenda for the group’s regular meeting in April, the executive session was labeled as an “evaluation” of Hughes and Johnson, but when chair Matthew Petty called the closed session to order, he mentioned “possible discipline” of the two directors.

Once the meeting was reopened to the public, commissioner Tim Freeman made a motion to authorize Petty to carry out disciplinary actions “as recommended by SPMI” on behalf of the commission. The group voted unanimously to approve the motion.

The group met in executive session again the following week, but took no action after reconvening.

After the initial meeting, Petty said he planned to meet with Hughes and Johnson privately to discuss internal matters. He said after the second meeting that state employee privacy laws prevented him from discussing any details of those meetings or of SPMI’s report, but confirmed that no action had been taken at the time.

“I’m proud of everything Kym has been able to accomplish and I wish her the best,” Petty said Monday. “The commission will choose an interim executive director in June and after that we will conduct a search for her replacement.”

Johnson, who is the daughter of Heifner, has served as director of the museum for several years. She was not mentioned in Monday’s news release.

Read Hughes’s full letter of resignation below:

May 9, 2016

It is an honor to have had the opportunity to lead the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission. I am proud of the achievements we have made to bring our city to a new level of national recognition. During my tenure, Fayetteville has been named in the top three places to live by U.S. News & World Report and received many other accolades. My team works tirelessly to promote our great city. However, the credit is not ours; the city itself makes our job easy. Fayetteville is a great place to be a tourist as well as a resident.

At this time, I must turn my attention to my family and move closer to be near to them. With that, I announce my resignation effective July 1st. The Commission Board and I will work to coordinate a smooth transition so that Fayetteville may achieve even greater heights. I thank the Board, and its director Matthew Petty, for his willingness to work with me through this process. The Board has graciously accepted and understands my circumstances.

I follow the mantra that I should always leave something better than I found it. Over a year in planning has brought our marketing to a monumental place in promoting Fayetteville as the diverse city that it truly is. I believe the Fayetteville A&P Commission is in a great place for a smooth transition, which allows me the chance to move on.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity the Commission gave me nearly two years ago. I look forward to seeing great things continue in Fayetteville in the coming years.

Kym Hughes,
Executive Director
Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission