A week after the sudden firing of Stephanie Kenyon as Morven Park’s executive director, the board of directors remains mum on the issue.
Kenyon was terminated after serving almost two years at the helm of the nonprofit that operates the historic 1,000-acre estate just outside Leesburg.
“We’re in shock,” said Leesburg attorney and Loudoun Fairfax Hunt Master David H. Moyes, upon hearing the news. He and other leading equestrians said they had been impressed by Kenyon’s stewardship of Morven Park and her outreach to a wider audience for the estate, the home of Westmoreland Davis, who was governor of Virginia from 1918 to 1922.
As of Tuesday, Moyes, Donna Rogers of Hamilton and other equestrians were still searching for answers, as a close-lipped silence emanated from Morven Park as to why Kenyon was asked to leave.
This week, calls to Westmoreland Davis Memorial Foundation Board of Board Trustees Chairman Clarke Davis were being routed to spokeswoman Cheryl Williams at Morven Park.
The trustees’ decision “was a surprise,” Kenyon said in a phone call Tuesday evening, describing her termination as “without cause,” but she ended her stay at Morven Park on a positive note.
“We parted amicably, and I wish them well,” she said.
“I’m proud of my nearly two years here—we’ve made an awful lot of progress—welcoming back equestrians and the wider community—I’m proud of that.”
Other positives she takes from her years at Morven Park include the success of the new Polo in the Park matches during July and August—“We had 7,000 visitors here, many of them who’d never seen a polo match before.”
Other successes, she said, included raising capital for three new arenas envisioned in the master plan for the estate, and sprucing up the fencing in cooperation with the Morven Park ground crews under the direction of Hank Woodward.
Moyes saluted Kenyon’s work.
“She did a good, good job, promoting the equine industry to the community. She was impressive, tireless and very positive,” he said, noting her continuing efforts in the rebuilding of equine facilities at Morven Park.
Rogers, a longtime supporter of the board of trustees and of Morven Park, decried the lack of explanation to the public.
“I was very supportive of her,” she said, noting she had worked with Kenyon on many Morven Park-related projects, including the Museum of Hounds and Hunting, the Carriage Horse and Museum, the Virginia Foxhunter Show and this summer’s polo, which was “wildly popular.” And she credited Kenyon with rebuilding relationships in the equestrian community.
Michael O’Connor, Leesburg businessman and equestrian, just attended his first board meeting last week right after the news of the firing broke—a session he dryly described as “interesting.”
O’Connor, who previously served on the Oatlands board of directors including as its chairman, said he had agreed to serve on the Morven Park board because of the interesting work they were doing there. He said he was sorry to hear of Kenyon’s departure; “she’s done great, great things there.”
Kenyon does not intend to stand still. She’s already been approached by several people seeking her expertise in the fundraising and nonprofit fields.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she said of her 25 years living in Waterford.