JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man selected to run Jacksonville’s Kids Hope Alliance while its CEO is on paid leave has stepped down to pursue another opportunity, News4Jax learned Tuesday.
Donnie Horner, the organization’s chief operating officer, has resigned his post to take a job working for K9s for Warriors, a Ponte Vedra Beach-based nonprofit that provides service dogs to veterans coping with trauma.
Horner resigned Jan. 30 in a letter addressed to Kevin Gay, chairman of the Kids Hope Alliance’s board of directors. His resignation becomes effective on Feb. 12.
“My intent has always been to lead with integrity, energy, competence, and a positive attitude while keeping the kids at the center of what we do. Together we have accomplished much in the past year, and we continue to positively impact the lives of kids and communities served by KHA,” Horner wrote.
“Recently, I have been offered significant professional opportunities to transition to the private sector. And, after thoughtful consultation with my spouse and family, I have decided to avail myself of these opportunities."
The Kids Hope Alliance is a city-run organization that’s intended to help under-served and at-risk youth by providing them programs, services and resources to reach their full potential.
Horner has been running the organization in lieu of CEO Joe Peppers, who was placed on paid administrative leave last August pending the outcome of an investigation by the city’s inspector general’s office.
No details have been released about the nature of that investigation.
In 2018, Peppers wrote an email to two city employees claiming that he was pressured by Mayor Lenny Curry’s top staffers to steer grant funding for a “Stop the Violence” campaign to certain groups. The mayor’s staff said Peppers was never pressured to do anything unethical.