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Watts Leaves Charity Abruptly

He’s Out

Chronicle News Services

By ROBERT E. BARNES

Special to the Chronicle

J.C. Watts Jr., the former congressman who founded his own lobbying group in the nation’s capitol, is out at Feed the Children, less than 10 months into his three-year contract as president and chief executive officer.

His last day was Friday. Employees were notified Monday.

The abrupt departure is the latest turmoil at the Oklahoma City-based charity that once was one of the most-recognized nonprofit organizations in the country.

“Mr. Watts plans to devote his time and talent to other interests and pursuits,” the charity announced Monday in a mutually agreed upon statement.

Mr. Watts, 58, was the most well-known leader at Feed the Children since its founder, Larry Jones, was forced out in 2009. Mr. Watts is a former corporation commissioner and former congressman who went into politics after a football career.

He was a quarterback at University of Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to Orange Bowl victories in 1980 and 1981. He played professionally in Canada.

“During his tenure, Mr. Watts advanced the mission of Feed the Children, a mission he continues to support,” the charity said in its statement.

“Feed the Children wishes him the best in all of his future endeavors. It is the responsibility of our board of directors to conduct a search and manage the selection of his replacement.”

Mr. Watts is also a Baptist minister.

Travis Arnold, chief operations officer, will serve as interim CEO until a new chief executive is selected.

Mr. Watts left after a vote of the board of directors. No reason was given for his departure.

His salary was $300,000 a year. The board of directors announced Mr. Watts’ selection in January. He started Feb. 1.

While involved with Feed the Children, Mr. Watts maintained his position as chairman of Watts Partners, a boutique government affairs firm based in Washington, D.C.

Larry Jones began the charity in 1979. Feed the Children became widely recognized through his heart-wrenching televised appeals for funds to feed starving children in Africa and elsewhere.

On Tuesday in Oklahoma City, the charity plans to distribute food, personal care items, toys and children’s books to 400 families.

J.C. Watts Jr., the former congressman, has left Feed the Children as president.

J.C. Watts Jr.

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