Huntington Foodbank head leaves for new opportunity - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Huntington Foodbank head leaves for new opportunity

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JIM ROSS / The State Journal. Tiffany Tatum plans to bring ClergyTech back to the Tri-State Area. JIM ROSS / The State Journal. Tiffany Tatum plans to bring ClergyTech back to the Tri-State Area.
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By JIM ROSS
For The State Journal

One of the people who helped rescue the Facing Hunger Foodbank is leaving to take over a California-based business and move it to Cabell County.

Tiffany Tatum says she has resigned as the food bank’s executive director and has bought ClergyTech and Churchpayroll.com, two businesses that help churches and nonprofits with bookkeeping and payroll functions.

Tatum joined what was then the Huntington Area Food Bank in October 2012 after its previous executive director resigned during an investigation into possible embezzlement. That person pleaded guilty last month to embezzling $32,000 from the organization.

In addition to that problem, the food bank was about to be cut off from a major source of food and funding. Debra Johnson-Tourigny was appointed to chair the group’s board of directors, and Tatum was hired to put things back together.

“When I walked in, I found an organization that needed a lot of repair work, needed a lot of maintenance,” Tatum said. “A lot of facets of the administration had been overlooked for some time.

“You’ve got to make your staff feel like they’re appreciated, especially when they work in the background. Morale here now is so much better than what it was.”

In addition to the previous executive director’s legal problems, Feeding America had placed the Huntington Area Foodbank on probation. Feeding America is a national network of food banks. It administers donations of food from major companies, and it holds local food banks to strict adherence of certain standards to receive those donations. The Huntington Area Foodbank was out of compliance, and that had to be corrected, Tatum said.

“I sat down, looked through the contracts and checked off what had to be fixed, and we’re in compliance now,” she said.

Tatum said she had training and experience in working with nonprofits, but she had never run a food bank or any other nonprofit until she took the job in Huntington.

“That learning curve was significant, to be sure, but it was fascinating,” she said. “I came in to fix the problems, and they’re fixed. I think someone can come into the place, look to the future and build capacity.

“There’s no more fixing that has to be done. They can build.”

So now Tatum is on to running and growing an established business. Stephen Paul started ClergyTech in Chesapeake, Ohio, across the Ohio River from Huntington, in the mid-1980s. Tatum worked there six or seven years until Paul moved to California and took the company with him. Tatum said she didn’t want to move across the country, so she stayed with the company but worked from home. Now Paul is getting ready for retirement, so he offered to sell the company to her, and she accepted.

“It would take me years to build up a client base” like the one Paul has, she said.

Paul also started churchpayroll.com, that’s an online payroll and bookkeeping service, in the 1990s. Most of its clients are small churches with few employees. Among other things, churchpayroll.com keeps them in compliance with federal regulations so they don’t lose their tax-exempt status, Tatum said.

“It allows them to focus on what they can do best, and we can help them stay in compliance,” she said.

The company has clients in 40 states.

Tatum said she will spend the next six months organizing the transition of the business to West Virginia. She plans to employ several professionals in the Barboursville and Huntington area.

Paul will be a partner in the firm. He will do development work while she handles the nuts and bolts work.

“I think it will be exciting, because there’s so much we can do with it,” Tatum said.