Director of DC’s Office of ANCs Abruptly Resigns
by Larry Janezich
Posted October 6, 2021
Gottlieb Simon, Executive Director of the DC Office of ANCs (OANC), abruptly announced his retirement at an on-line meeting of ANC Chairs last Thursday night.
That was followed by an email to all 300 ANC commissioners from CM Robert White, Chair of the DC Committee on Government Operations which oversees the OANC on Friday, October 1.
White announced that Simon was leaving the role of Executive Director after more than 20 years and commended him for his service. He said that on Tuesday, October 5, the Council would vote on appointment of Schannette Grant as Interim Executive Director. Grant was chief of staff to former CM Jack Evans.
Monday night, a citywide caucus of ANC commissioners, organized and coordinated by former ANC6B Chair Chander Jayaraman, discussed Simon’s departure during a virtual caucus.
Some commissioners suggested Simon had been forced to resign because Councilmembers lacked confidence in the office after failure to meet a fiscal year-end deadline for policy changes – including a plan for resuming hybrid/in person ANC meetings next February and a plan to increase communication with ANCs.
Commissioners expressed appreciation for Simon’s institutional memory but some expressed frustration that the Office of ANC was not being more supportive of the ANCs.
In August, the caucus of ANCs through ACTOS – its committee to advise the Office of ANC – sent a detailed letter to Simon with a wish list of things OANC could do to help the ANCs – but as one commissioner put it Monday night, “nothing was done that we can see.” That letter requested :
- Procurement of software to assist commissioners with outreach and engagement with their constituents
- Language accessibility for those whose first language is not English and supplemental communication access services for those with disabilities
- Funding to support remote meeting technologies, audio-visual technology and services, printing services and website assistance
There was a consensus of the group in Monday night’s meeting that the ANC’s should have a voice in the selection of the new Director, and there are indications CM Robert White is amenable. It’s unclear what role the ANCs would play in the process, but a letter to White is being circulated within the caucus regarding a advice to the CC about the direction the OANC should go in the future. That letter will be circulated to all ANC commissioners in the city with a request to sign on to the recommendations.