Amit Paley, the embattled CEO of The Trevor Project, was removed from his role as head of the LGBTQ suicide prevention organization this month by the group’s board following a widespread backlash from the staff against his leadership, the organization confirmed.
Paley’s exit, first reported by Teen Vogue, comes months after HuffPost revealed that Paley had worked with famed OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma while employed by global consulting firm McKinsey. & Company.
At the time of the HuffPost revelations, Trevor Project staff had criticized Paley’s vision for the organization, saying his focus on growth undermined the quality of guidance the organization offers to LGBTQ youth in crisis.
“Many members of our staff have expressed concerns about workplace well-being, professional development, prioritization performance metrics and resource compensation – particularly with respect to our BIPOC team members, transgender, non-binary and disabled,” The Trevor Project said in a statement. at HuffPost. “While a full and independent review of the Trevor project is underway, the board has decided to change direction.”
At the time of Paley’s work with Purdue Pharma – 2016 and 2017 – the opioid epidemic was claiming tens of thousands of lives every year, and Purdue Pharma’s reputation was in a tailspin. HuffPost discovered that Paley was part of a McKinsey team that helped Purdue develop a 10-year strategic plan to drive sales of opioids and other Purdue products.
Paley also helped McKinsey compete to manage data analytics for Purdue and compete for a separate project that involved resurrecting Purdue’s declining public reputation.
In 2017, Paley left McKinsey to lead The Trevor Project. His role on McKinsey’s Purdue account remained secret until this summer, when McKinsey released more than a decade of documents about his work with Purdue as part of a $573 million McKinsey role settlement. in the opioid crisis.
“If I had known then what I know now, I would not have agreed to consult for this company, and I regret that I did,” Paley said in a statement to HuffPost this summer. Gina Muñoz, the chair of the board, said the board has “full confidence in Amit as CEO of The Trevor Project and strongly supports him.”
But the details of Paley’s work for Purdue reportedly rattled Project Trevor staff. The group’s own research has linked prescription drug abuse to an increased risk of suicide among LGBTQ youth. Teen Vogue reported that, following the HuffPost story, many staff members believed Paley should quit.
Already, many staffers were distressed by Paley’s vision for the Trevor Project: to focus on rapidly scaling up its LGBTQ counseling services, which staffers said came at the expense of quality.
Prior to Paley’s exit, more than 200 Trevor Project staff signed a letter complaining about the skyrocketing growth.
Paley did not respond to a request for comment. Co-founder Peggy Rajski would serve as interim CEO, with help from Muñoz. Paley and a spokesperson for The Trevor Project did not respond to a request for comment.