Program director for 10 years says he resigned over differences in opinion regarding youth group’s direction for the future
Bob Miskinis, one of four people who co-founded Youth First Texas in 1999, has stepped down as the organization’s program director after 10 years.
Miskinis said he resigned Monday, June 1, over differences of opinion about the future direction of the nonprofit, which provides social services, educational opportunities and recreational activities to LGBTQA youth in North Texas.
"The organization has gotten really big, and I think in some ways it’s gotten away from being youth-centered," Miskinis said Friday, June 5. "I just want to get back to basics again."
Miskinis, 40, declined to go into further detail about the reasons behind his departure but said he plans to stay involved with local LGBTQA youth.
"I’ve got nothing bad to say about Youth First," Miskinis said. "The last thing I want to do is hurt Youth First and hurt the youth. I’m just trying to do what I feel is best. The thing is, I’m not leaving the youth. That’s not going to happen."
Brandon Dowdy, co-chair of Youth First’s 10-member Board of Directors, refused to say whether Miskinis’ resignation had been requested, citing confidentiality associated with employment matters.
Dowdy added that Youth First planned to hire someone to replace Miskinis, although the position may be restructured.
"Bob was, is and always will be a valuable asset as a co-founder of Youth First Texas," Dowdy said, adding that Miskinis "has helped to save countless lives."
After founding the organization along with Bob Ivancic, Daryl Parker and Amelia Menthe, Miskinis served as Youth First’s only employee from its inception until last year, when he was joined by Director of Administration Judith Dumont.
Many of the youth served by the organization reportedly were shocked by news of Miskinis’ departure. By Tuesday, June 9, 50 people had joined a Facebook group called "I stand by Bob Miskinis!" which reportedly was planning events including a party at Miskinis’ ranch in Denton County.
Jesus Montelongo, 18, an ambassador for Youth First, said in an e-mail that Miskinis "embodies benevolence and compassion."
"When I first walked in through the halls of Youth First Texas, Bob was there and since then he has never left my life," Montelongo said. "I love him dearly and I am not going to turn my back on YFT because I know that he taught me better than that."
Ivancic, who spent 10 years on Youth First’s board before stepping down in January, said although Miskinis’ departure is a loss, he feels YFT is "in great hands."
Ten years ago, the organization had a budget of $20,000 and was housed in a building owned by the Cathedral of Hope, Ivancic said.
Today, Youth First has a budget of $180,000 and serves more than 1,200 youth each year out of its headquarters near Maple Avenue and Inwood Road.
"I certainly get that the youth are really upset — he’s been a father figure to a lot of them," Ivancic said. "But in my eyes the organization has to keep growing and moving forward. I have no doubt that the organization is going to flourish."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 12, 2009.