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Black professionals club rocked after founder and CFO reportedly replaced by white exec

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A members-only organization for Black professionals has come under fire after its Black co-founder and chief financial officer appeared to be pushed out and replaced by a white man.

Members of The Gathering Spot were confused last week when they received an “unauthorized” email informing them that T’Keel “TK” Petersen’s last day would be July 31, and Mike McCloskey would be stepping in as CFO, according to journalist Phil Lewis and his What I’m Reading news.

The email — which claimed to be from The Gathering Spot’s membership services and was titled “Announcing New Leadership” — revealed that McCloskey, the former CFO of Trella Health, a healthcare provider based in Atlanta, will answer to Ryan Glover. Glover is the co-founder and CEO of Greenwood, the parent company of The Gathering Spot.

Ryan Wilson (left) and T’Keel “TK” Petersen (right) are co-founders of The Gathering Spot. Members of the private club for Black professionals were notified that as of July 31, Petersen is out as CFO. (Photo: Screenshot/ Club Power 105.1 FM)

Greenwood acquired The Gathering Spot in 2022, two years after Glover, former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, tech godfather Paul Judge and rapper-activist Michael “Killer Mike” Render co-founded the digital banking services platform.

McCloskey “comes to Greenwood and TGS after a wealth of experience from other organizations,” the unsigned email read. “All local club general managers will report directly to him and work together to continue to drive value for members of the community.”

The Atlanta Community Board, which bridges the club’s administration and its members, scheduled an emergency meeting to review the leadership changes. 

Board member Nikki Porcher, founder of the Atlanta-based group Buy From A Black Woman, said The Gathering Spot is “no longer about community.” She stated that the eight board members plan to resign and that her group would look for new collaborators for its activities.

Anthony Wilson, founder and board member of the Atlanta-based nonprofit Equity in Education, also announced that his group would no longer be affiliated with The Gathering Spot.

Black leadership can’t behave like white leadership with a Black face

The Gathering Spot hosts panels and community service activities and serves as a coworking space. Former President Barack Obama, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Drake and LeBron James have visited the private club. The club also receives credit for helping to turn Georgia blue by organizing events to boost voter turnout and encourage citizens in 2020 to back Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who both won Senate seats. 

In addition to its offices in Atlanta, Washington and Los Angeles, The Gathering Spot operates smaller hubs known as “Connected Cities” in Chicago, Detroit, Houston, New York City and Charlotte that host events for its membership.

Some club members have indicated they had canceled their TGS associateship or were thinking about doing so following the news. Among them is Jennifer Matthews, a charter member of the Atlanta branch.

“What trips me out is that this new white guy is about to be over all of the club managers that push the culture,” Matthews said, What I’m Reading reported. “They have to report to this person, and that is going to have an impact on programming and events. We have an election cycle coming up.”

The Gathering Spot apologized to its members late Friday night for the initial “unauthorized email” that “provided incorrect information.” 

“As you may have noticed, the email did not follow our standard brand style for official communication with the TGS community,” the email read, expressing regret for the unsatisfactory message’s erroneous information.

The email stated that while Petersen would be stepping down at the end of the month, he would still be listed as a co-founder of The Gathering Spot and would remain a Greenwood shareholder. 

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It also read that Greenwood has been searching for a chief financial officer since 2021 and that McCloskey is not a replacement for Petersen, as they have “two different roles, within two different companies in our family, with two different sets of responsibilities.”

In the email’s closing paragraph, The Gathering Spot mentioned that more than 75 percent of its leadership staff is Black.

Some members don’t believe Petersen would have departed from The Gathering Spot on his own accord. “None of it’s adding up,” said a founding member of the Atlanta branch, who reportedly knows Petersen. “So I tend to believe that silence speaks volumes.”

Matthews urged The Gathering Spot management to provide more information on what transpired, as she feels that “members need more transparency on what this Greenwood partnership is and how it impacts TGS members moving forward.”

“It’s bigger than any one person getting ousted,” Matthews contended, according to What I’m Reading. “It’s more about what happens to the culture of The Gathering Spot.”

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