Columbia Association President and CEO Lakey Boyd will be leaving her position amid tensions with the Board of Directors.

Columbia Association President and CEO Lakey Boyd has decided to leave her position in the face of written demands from the elected Board of Directors to which she reports that she said would leave her unable to perform her duties.

Boyd said in a statement that board leaders gave her a document at a meeting last Friday which contained requirements they wanted her to follow. “After review and reflection of the discussion, and due to the terms of the plan and the timeline, I believe the Board’s plan renders me ineffective in being able to carry out my duties as President/CEO as they are detailed in my contract,” Boyd said in the statement released Wednesday evening.

“I have concluded that I have no other choice but to ask the CA Board to transition me out of the Columbia Association,” she said.

Boyd’s decision caps months of tension between many members of the board and the leader they hired less than two years ago to serve in one of the most visible leadership positions in Howard County. The conflict – which involves charges and countercharges of ethics violations and other bad-faith decisions – has generated widespread attention. Numerous supporters have rallied to Boyd’s defense and some calling for a recall of the local elected Columbia officials who form the governing body.

The conflict burst into public view in the fall, when Boyd spoke out at a board of directors meeting and asked the board to address rumors that it was seeking to remove her and place an interim president at the helm. That night, and ever since, board members have declined to comment on Boyd’s status, saying they cannot discuss personnel matters.

Last Friday, the day when board leaders presented Boyd with a plan, the Board of Directors issued its first public statement over the leadership issued, saying it was “aware of numerous false rumors and speculations surrounding the employment status of the Columbia Association President and CEO, Lakey Boyd. The truth is that the Board of Directors seeks to improve the relationship and communications between Ms. Boyd and the Board, and has presented a plan to Ms. Boyd to accomplish that goal. The Board is hopeful this plan will foster a productive working relationship and positive changes.”

The document containing the improvement plan and requirements has not been made public.

A community planner by training, Boyd moved to Columbia from Alabama in 2021 to take the helm of the Columbia Association, which oversees a $70 million budget and manages recreation programs, community events, open spaces and more in a community of more than 100,000 residents – effectively Maryland’s second-largest city. Her supporters say she has sought to embrace new voices and diversity, and chart a future course for the planned community created by developer James Rouse in the 1960s.

A leadership change will come with a price tag that will ultimately be paid by Columbia residents who pay annual assessments to the Columbia Association. Boyd is less than two years into a four-year contract that pays her $240,000, and a transition plan would most likely involve a contract buy-out of some amount. Additionally, the Board of Directors has already spent more than $40,000 on outside legal fees as it has determined how to address its oversight and management of the president’s role. Dannika Rynes, the senior manager of media relations and communications for the  Columbia Association, said there would be no further information immediately provided about next steps.

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David Nitkin

David Nitkin is the Executive Editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He is an award-winning journalist, having worked as State House Bureau Chief, White House Correspondent, Politics Editor and Metropolitan Editor...