IABC executive director resigns after brief tenure (update)

Less than a year after hiring Chris Sorek, the communications organization has announced his resignation. UPDATED.


Following months of controversy and accusations of botched communications, Executive Director Christopher Sorek has stepped down at the International Association of Business Communicators.

IABC International Chair Kerby Meyers announced the resignation Tuesday, saying Sorek will work on special projects for the board over the next two months.

Sorek was hired to head the organization of 15,000 members a little less than a year ago. But controversy erupted within months of his arrival when IABC laid off half its 32 staffers and hired 11 newcomers, leading to an uproar as members questioned the plan and IABC’s communications.

Sorek’s resignation comes just weeks before the IABC’s annual conference. Sorek could not immediately be reached for comment.

IABC’s recent communications woes evidently did not stop with the departure of Sorek. The news of Sorek’s departure was apparently first reported externally by David Murray in his blog Tuesday evening.

IABC sent an email to leaders Tuesday, and external relations team lead consultant Claire Watson posted a press release on LinkedIn early Wednesday with the message, “Sorry all! Our technology wouldn’t allow us to post the following news release to the website.”

IABC Communications Director Aaron Heinrich told Ragan.com that IABC prepared a press release, but didn’t want to send it out until all of the membership had been notified. This didn’t happen until Tuesday night, he said.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday nothing was reported on IABC’s home page or news releases page.

As of noon EDT on Wednesday, IABC still hadn’t posted the news about Sorek on Twitter, although it was tweeting about a Q&A with a speaker at its upcoming conference and thanking others for mentions. One IABC tweet from Tuesday stated, “Rapid Response to A Crisis is Seldom Enough.”

In a press statement, Meyers said:

“We thank Chris for his contributions over the past 11 months, and for leading an operational review that resulted in a number of business efficiencies for the Association. Changes introduced on several fronts are helping the organization meet the objectives laid out in our strategy.”

Some members took to LinkedIn to criticize the announcement, the months of turmoil, and a “key messages” memo that the organization had emailed to chapter leaders.

Communicator and IABC member Allan Jenkins wrote that cascading communication really doesn’t work anymore, saying that David Murray heard the news before most chapter leaders.

“It was on Twitter hours ago,” he wrote. “It was probably on emails, frankly, before that. As a result, any member will get the news without the filter of chapter leaders or your talking points.”

Others praised Watson for getting the word out.

“Thank you Claire, for keeping us all connected,” wrote one member. “Leading such a diverse network of people across the globe is a huge challenge but really exciting in this time of change.”

Watson expressed surprise that an email to internal leaders was forwarded to Murray.

“What interests me more is the fact that the international chair sent a message to internal leaders that was immediately shared with a non-member journalist who didn’t even pick up the phone and ask for more details and clarification,” she said. “I wonder about the ethics of balanced reporting, and I wonder about ethics in relationship to volunteer leadership positions, and the underlying motive for even going there.”

Contacted by Ragan.com, Murray said he attempted to respond on LinkedIn that he had from two sources, and he had sent emails to IABC’s Heinrich and Meyers.

“Neither have yet gotten back to me, and neither has Watson, even though I provided my phone number,” he wrote Wednesday morning.

“My comment didn’t appear and is no longer in the ‘pending comments’ section. And my ethics are being questioned?”

Murray quoted a talking-points email from Meyers, the international chair, to IABC’s chapter leaders:

Your key messages are:

1. Chris Sorek has resigned from IABC to return to the corporate world. We thank him for his contributions over the past 11 months.

2. Between now and World Conference at the end of June, IEB Chair Kerby Meyers will lead day-to-day operations at IABC headquarters. After that time an interim Executive Director will be appointed by the Board and will continue to manage the business of IABC until a new Executive Director is found.

3. IABC’s strategic direction remains on track. We are dedicated to delivering exceptional service to our members and growing the Association. We have an ambitious agenda and will continue to implement innovative products and services that raise the bar within the communication profession worldwide.

Here is the IABC press release, via LinkedIn:

Sorry all! Our technology wouldn’t allow us to post the following news release to the website. Executive Director, Chris Sorek Departs IABC

Fingers crossed that the entire news release is posted!

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 4, 2013) – IABC International Chair, Kerby Meyers, has announced the resignation of Executive Director Chris Sorek. Sorek will work on special projects for the Board over the next two months.

Meyers commented, “We thank Chris for his contributions over the past 11 months, and for leading an operational review that resulted in a number of business efficiencies for the Association. Changes introduced on several fronts are helping the organization meet the objectives laid out in our strategy.”

Between now and the end of June, Meyers will lead the daily IABC operations with support from senior Board members and staff. Following IABC’s World Conference, which takes place in New York from June 23 through 26, the Board will look for an interim Executive Director until the position is filled on a more permanent basis.

During his tenure with IABC, Sorek supported the Content Management Team in their recommendation to move IABC’s Communication World print magazine online, led the re-engineering of IABC’s technology infrastructure, and worked with volunteers that were developing the Career Road Map, and revamping the Gold Quill Awards and the certification program.

Meyers said, “IABC’s strategy remains on track. We are dedicated to delivering exceptional service to our members and growing the Association. We have an ambitious agenda and will continue to implement innovative products and services that raise the bar within the communication profession worldwide.”

About IABC

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) is a global network of communication professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic communication. Established in 1970, IABC serves nearly 14,000 members in 70 countries and more than 100 chapters. For more information, visit http://www.iabc.com.

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