Eva Hassett stood at a podium Sept. 2 to help lead a fundraising drive for Afghan evacuees.
What she didn't know at the time was that a vote to remove her as executive director of the International Institute of Buffalo had occurred days earlier.
Hassett, a fixture among those in the city's refugee and immigrant support organizations, learned of her firing that evening from the board of directors. The board remained silent about Hassett's removal three weeks later when announcing the appointment of an interim executive director and a search for a permanent replacement.
During Hassett's 12 years at the International Institute, she became a prominent advocate on behalf of immigrants and refugees coming to Buffalo.
Myron Glick, CEO of Jericho Road Community Health Center, called Hassett's departure "a real loss to our community."
"Eva was a tireless advocate on behalf of the immigrant and refugee communities here in Buffalo, and her stellar work leading the International Institute all these years was much appreciated," Glick said.
Hassett declined to be interviewed.
A short joint statement sent by the board and Hassett praised the former employee for her accomplishments at the institute. The statement concluded: "As Eva moves forward to pursue new opportunities, the organization and the institute's board wish her well, and Eva wishes the board, staff and clients the same."
"Eva did great things for the International Institute, but at this point we just needed a different skill set," said Katie Schneider, the institute's board chair. "I could say we didn't handle it as gracefully as we could, but it was just time for a leadership change.
"I think the world of Eva and appreciate all she did for the International Institute," Schneider told The News.
Hassett began work as the International Institute's executive director in April 2009. Prior to that, she was a vice president at Savarino Construction Services. Hassett also served as finance commissioner and chief of staff in Mayor Anthony Masiello's administration.
She is a longtime board member of the Richardson Center Corp.
Mark Sommer covers preservation, development, the waterfront, culture and more. He's also a former arts editor at The News.