Animal center board fires Cleveland as director

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Leona Cleveland is pictured at the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center shortly after being hired in May 2020.

Leona Cleveland's 17-month tenure as executive director of the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center ended Thursday night when the shelter's board of directors terminated her.

The board took the action during its regular monthly meeting at the Adams Street Community Center.

In April, the board had placed Cleveland on probation after deciding at that time against terminating her.

Cleveland posted a message — which is now deleted — to the animal center's Facebook page Thursday night stating: 

“To all my friends, supporters and animal lovers. It is with sadness to report that, at the direction of the board of directors, I will no longer be the shelter director. Thank you for the past 18 months of change, goals accomplished and love of Corinne T. Smith Animal Center. Please support my staff (family) and animals in this transition!”

Reached by phone Friday morning, Cleveland said she is disappointed, but not surprised, at being terminated.

"Their biggest complaint was that I was insubordinate," Cleveland said. "There has been a very fractious relationship between us for at least a year. It was inevitable it would happen."

Cleveland said she believes she did a good job as shelter director and does not believe she was insubordinate.

Cleveland said the board had planned to give her an annual evaluation in a closed session and declined her request to do the evaluation in opens session. Cleveland said she left the meeting and was informed of her termination.

Board president John Morris said he wishes Cleveland "the best of luck."

When asked why the board terminated Cleveland, Morris said, "there have been a lot of issues. They're all personnel issues. They're private. They can't e discussed in public."

Morris said the board was following the center's bylaws in having Cleveland's evaluation in closed session.

"We are getting an application process for director, job description for director, and I hope within the next two days we will start trying to hire a new director. 

Board secretary Sherry Howry said board members met with the center's staff Friday morning. "The staff is working as hard as ever," Howry said.