Appleton did not return requests for comment, nor did members of the board.
Related: Our podcast with Chris Appleton
Craig Kronenberger, who has served as the public face of the board during the investigation, said the statement seems to indicate that Appleton won’t return to his post at the conclusion of the investigation. “That’s the way I take it,” he said.
Kronenberger is president of Stripe Reputation, a “crisis and reputation management” company.
Olivia Greene-Knight, WonderRoot’s director of operations and finance, is serving as WonderRoot’s acting executive director.
In an open letter to the board, the signers of the Feb. 7 letter claimed “egregious and systemic harm that we have endured at the behest of Executive Director, Chris Appleton’s leadership.”
The letter writers claimed Appleton displayed “racism, classism, and heteropatriarchy,” “financial dishonesty” and “mismanagement of basic operations,” including “forcing staff to work in a building without AC or heat.”
The arts and advocacy organization has a long history in Atlanta. It is partially responsible for the mural on the King Memorial MARTA station, and recently helped coordinate the "Off the Wall" project, in which artists painted more than two dozen murals celebrating the city's civil rights legacy in downtown Atlanta and in historic neighborhoods in anticipation of the Super Bowl.
WonderRoot was founded in 2004, as a performance and studio space and a headquarters for the creative arts.
In 2014 the organization received a go-ahead from the city of Atlanta to move from its 4,000-square-foot Memorial Drive location to a 54,000-square-foot former elementary school on the same street.
In the statement released by the board, they thanked Appleton “for his more than 15 years of dedicated service and vital contributions to WonderRoot.”