Guadagno says she’s leaving Fulfill, returning to Connell Foley

Former lieutenant governor, pushing back on reports she’s being pushed out, tells ROI she is leaving as two-year commitment comes to a close

Former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno now runs Fulfill. (File photo)

Former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno pushed back on the idea that she is being pushed out as head of Fulfill.

“It’s nonsense,” she told ROI-NJ.

Guadagno said reports of her being fired by Fulfill, the Shore-based food bank that has helped feed hundreds of thousands during the pandemic, are erroneous. Guadagno said her two-year commitment to the organization ends May 5 — and it was time to decide her future.

“Remember, I still practice at Connell Foley,” she said. “It was either renew my commitment to the food bank as they begin strategic planning and a capital campaign, or make a clean break.

“It was generous of Connell Foley to give me the time to work with Fulfill. Now, it’s time to get back to the law.”

In a personal note to friends sent out Friday, Guadagno remarked on her time at Fulfill.

“It was a privilege and an unexpected challenge to guide the food bank throughout the pandemic,” she said. “During the last two years, we served 3.5 million more meals than the year before the pandemic.  We closed a million-and-a-half-dollar budget gap and have increased revenue by two-and-one-half times. That revenue will ensure our neighbors are provided for as we pivot from the pandemic to the new normal.

“We saw an increase in visibility and a corresponding increase in donors of 17,000. Our work has been recognized both statewide and nationally.

“I can comfortably say the next phase of growth is now upon us as Fulfill embarks on a new strategic plan and a capital campaign. I could not commit to seeing all of that through. So, it is time for me to focus on my practice.”

On Friday, Fulfill board Chair Lauren Holman announced a search for a new CEO.

Holman said, effective May 6, Chief Operating Officer Jim Kroeze and Director of Development and External Relations Linda Kellner will serve as interim co-CEOs while the board of trustees conducts a formal search for a new executive leader.

Guadagno will continue to serve as an adviser to Fulfill, Holman said.

“On behalf of the board of trustees of Fulfill, I would like to thank Kim for her service,” Holman said in the release.

Last month, Guadagno faced criticism for failing to apply for CARES Act funding from Monmouth County — and got in a war of words with county leaders. The New Jersey Globe, citing unnamed sources, said Guadagno was being ousted because of that.