The BOD Secretary's Office:
MY Project USA Terminates Former Treasurer Russell Harris From Board of Directors for Financial Improprieties
Funds were Misappropriated in the Month of August. Caught In Real Time and Recouped by the Organization within Five Days
Zero Tolerance Policy Against Misappropriation of the Organization's Funds
We, the Board of Directors of MY Project USA, want to inform you that Russell Harris, former Board Treasurer and Chair of the Hilltop Tigers Soccer Club, has been relieved of duties after an investigation into financial improprieties involving the organization’s finances.
On Aug. 29th, MY Project USA Founder & Executive Director Zerqa Abid discovered the financial improprieties from the month of August and questioned Mr. Harris. Mr. Harris admitted to the use of organizational funds for personal purposes and apologized to the Board of Directors for his actions in an email the next day. On Aug. 31, Abid called an emergency board meeting and the Board terminated Mr. Harris by a unanimous vote. The authorities were informed, and the Board demanded Mr. Harris return all the money immediately, which was returned within five days. By this time, we have also diligently reviewed all past transactions in our accounts and have not found any other misappropriation. We consider this matter closed now.
Therefore, it is with a very heavy heart that we announce that Mr. Harris is no longer affiliated with MY Project USA in any manner. While we will always be appreciative of his efforts for the organization during his years of service, it is in the interest of the organization that Mr. Harris does not serve as a member of the MY Project USA team.
After discussing with our legal counsel and auditors, we’ve taken the following steps to help prevent these types of issues in the future:
- Debit card control policy: No one, including the President, Treasurer or Executive Director, is allowed to keep the debit card on their person anymore. Instead, it is kept in a locked office and can only be used after filling out an appropriate form and with the approval of two members of the admin team.
- Cash handling policies revised: All cash will be handed over to the office manager immediately. The office manager will issue a receipt against the deposit and will report the money to the accountant and Assistant Executive Director on a daily basis. All money will be reconciled on a weekly basis in the accounting meeting with the admin team.
- Credit card transaction policies revised: We have invested in a new software application, “Fyle.” This allows all credit card holders within the organization to categorize transactions & submit receipts in real time. This will help them be more mindful and accountable in using credit cards.
As the Board of Directors of MY Project USA, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we are extremely proud of our glowing record when it comes to fiscal management, record keeping and accounting. All of us are donors ourselves and have zero tolerance for any kind of misappropriation of fundings. Each year, MY Project USA has its finances reviewed by auditors with Brady Ware & Company, and so far, we have received highest points from our auditors each year.
In Mr. Harris’s case, the organization has been commended by the fraud lawyers and auditors for catching the misappropriation in real time and setting a great example for other organizations.
We are proud to be radically transparent when it comes to reporting and sharing information with the community. That is why auditor reports and tax returns are available on our website at MYProjectUSA.org/reports. MY Project USA will continue to be as transparent as possible when it comes to its finances.
We appreciate your support and confidence in us as we strive to protect and empower our youth and families and uplift our community.
In solidarity with Youth & Families,
Ramy El-Assal, Secretary
Zerqa Abid, Founder, President & Executive Director
Uzair Qidwai, Co-Treasurer & Director Administration
Taha Ahmed, Co-Treasurer
Grace Johnson, Board Member
Raifa Alhag-Ali, Board Member
Safa Mohamed, Board Member