MANATEE -- Marc Dosogne said Friday he will not resign from the top job at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County over criticism of an email he wrote to his staff.
Dosogne, the clubs' CEO and executive director for about six months, conceded the memo contained "some poor choices of words."
The memo, which outlined new hiring practices at the nonprofit, "does not reflect who I am or what is in my heart and what I stand for," Dosogne said.
Dosogne was placed on administrative leave Thursday by his board of directors due to the email. The Manatee NAACP, which is leading the charge against Dosogne, said it found the memo "culturally biased."
Speaking to the Bradenton Herald on Friday, Dosogne said he was deeply apologetic for his choice of words in the memo and that he has apologized to Manatee NAACP officials, who have asked for his dismissal, and to his staff.
"I wouldn't even think of resigning because I believe in my mission here," Dosogne said. "I have dedicated my life to this."
The Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee will take several weeks to work through the issues, said Bob Spencer, a Boys & Girls Clubs board member.
In the memo that was sent to staff who have management responsibilities, Dosogne stated that he hopes future Boys & Girls Clubs hires "have stayed out of trouble, stayed clear of drugs, abuse of alcohol and tobacco and not have had children as teenagers."
The memo also states that Dosogne frowns upon hiring applicants who "come in with a lot of tattoos, face piercing, dreadlocks on guys, people wearing baseball caps, sweats or baggie shorts or anyone provocatively dressed."
On Friday, Dosogne said that focusing on dreadlocks and teen pregnancies was wrong.
"I now better appreciate the diverse cultural differences that we have here in Manatee County," Dosogne said. "I also understand now the many reasons why people wear dreadlocks, which can include health and religious beliefs.
"I really have stepped back on that one and understand it better now," Dosogne said.
Dosogne also said he should not have said that job applicants who have had children as teenagers should be excluded from consideration.
"I think I used a poor choice of words there," Dosogne said. "I have hired and will continue to hire people who have had children. I have children. What I was reflecting on I should have said better. What I was trying to say is that we want our employees to make sure we make young people understand the perils of the choices they make that can limit their opportunities or make life tougher.
"We have people who work with us who are single parents, and I have a high respect for anyone charged with raising a child," Dosogne added. "It's one of the most important jobs in the world."
Dosogne said he was surprised that the Manatee NAACP still asked for his firing after he apologized to President Susie Copeland and Vice President Charles Smith in a face-to-face meeting after the memo came out.
"I am absolutely surprised because as soon as I learned that things I wrote were taken offensively, I apologized," Dosogne said. "I also specifically stated (to Copeland and Smith) that I would meet with my staff to make sure they were not feeling threatened for their job security or were being singled out. I did that. In my staff meetings, I absolutely apologized for any wrong choice of words and told them their jobs were based on performance, and we need to be there for the kids."
On Friday, however, Copeland said she was "disappointed" but not surprised that the Boys & Girls Clubs board put Dosogne on leave and did not immediately fire him.
"I didn't expect anything less to be honest with you," Copeland said. "I felt that our comments would go unheeded. I was hopeful, in my heart, but I felt they were not going to (fire Dosogne) based on the fact that the Boys and Girls Club board is not an overwhelmingly diverse board.
"No one would understand where I am coming from unless they walked in my shoes," she said. "They just wouldn't understand where we are coming from about insensitive comments."
Kurt Koeppler, a board member of The Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh, Wis., hired Dosogne to the job of CEO of that club about 10 years ago. On Friday, he said it would be a mistake for Manatee County to let him go. Oshkosh does not have a large African-American or Hispanic population, Koeppler acknowledged.
"Marc is one of the finest individuals I have ever met," Koeppler said. "I know he wishes he could take some of it back. The sole purpose of what Marc was trying to do is to improve the lives of the kids at the Boys & Girls Club regardless of race or color.
"Marc will do amazing things for your community," Koeppler added. "It would be a huge mistake to let him go. I will stake my reputation on it."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ Richard Dymond.