By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter
March 11, 2016
John Melia tells AP he's willing to return after CEO, COO were fired
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One day after the Wounded Warrior Project's Board of Directors fired the nonprofit's top two executives, the man who founded the charity more than 20 years ago told the Associated Press that he's open to returning to run the organization.
Two years after former Marine John Melia, who was injured in a helicopter crash in Somalia, and his wife began stuffing backpacks to give to wounded warriors, his organization became a federally recognized charity in 2005.
Melia later recruited Steven Nardizzi and Al Giordano to the organization. Nardizzi, a lawyer who brought an aggressive entrepreneurial style to the charity, became chief executive officer and turned Wounded Warrior Project into an $800 million fundraising enterprise.
Sources told News4Jax that Nardizzi pushed Melia out of the organization in 2009.
A press release in 2009 said he Melia would stay on board with WWP, but he did not.
That's what made Friday's announcement so significant, people have not heard from him in years when it comes to the charity.
Melia said donors who supported the group since its humble beginning "have every right to be angry about the lack of stewardship shown by the immediate past leadership of WWP," and "the new leadership of the WWP must do everything in its power to restore its relationship and regain the trust of those it serves and its donors."
Melia said the actions of the two fired executives should not reflect poorly on charity employees who are still doing good work.
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