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Community Board 9 Chair Abruptly Resigns

An embattled Community Board 9, already operating without a district manager, will now likely have to operate for the rest of October with an interim chair after Chairman Demetrius Lawrence abruptly announced his resignation.

From DNAinfo [1] by Rachel Holliday Smith:

Community Board 9 Chairman Demetrius Lawrence has resigned effective immediately citing demands from a new job, he told DNAinfo New York.

Lawrence, who served since the spring of 2015, resigned Tuesday in a letter to fellow board members obtained by DNAinfo.

“Due to increased responsibilities associated with a new job I started last month, I have no choice but to step down at this time,” he wrote.

The resignation follows a series of controversial leadership changes at the board in recent years. Lawrence, a Crown Heights resident, was the third CB9 chairman in just over two years following a contentious fight over rezoning in the area [2].

And during his tenure, Lawrence oversaw the ouster of CB9’s longtime District Manager Pearl Miles [3](removed for a “longstanding pattern of misconduct,” the board said at the time) and the contentious election of her replacement, Carmen Martinez [4], who has not yet been installed.

That’s because of a court challenge brought against the board by the activist group Movement to Protect the People [5] and its founder, Alicia Boyd, a vocal critic of the board.

Lawrence said his decision to leave was made solely because of the demands of his new job — a technology role with the financial firm Blackstone Group, according to LinkedIn — and not because of any recent controversy.

“It was really difficult for me to manage this job and be effective as a chair for the board,” he told DNAinfo. “It was just too much to bear.”

He said he “enjoyed chairing the board” and plans to continue serving on CB9 as a member as much as he can.

“It’s always a tough decision to leave a leadership position when you’re trying to create change in a community,” he said.

Following Lawrence’s resignation, the board’s first vice chair, Dr. Zorina Frederick, will serve as interim chair until nominees for a new leader are chosen and an election takes place.

A replacement must be chosen at the board’s November meeting, according to CB9’s bylaws.