Update, May 18, 2023: The Minnesota Board of Nursing on Thursday accepted the resignation of its executive director, whom it had placed on leave earlier this week for an unspecified “personnel issue.” The action came during an emergency meeting to consider firing Kimberly Miller, who had led the agency since August 2021. In a letter to the board, Miller said she had worked diligently and the agency had made gains under her leadership. She said the pandemic and the board’s transition to computers had caused problems but that the board’s performance was improving. She said she could not address allegations in the media about a toxic work environment or the slow pace of investigations because she had “not received notification of the specific allegations or been asked to participate in an investigation.” Board member Sarah Simons said that after ProPublica reported on Miller, the office of Minnesota Management and Budget, the state’s human resources arm, conducted an investigation into the dysfunctional workplace issues raised in the story and presented findings to the nursing board, which led to the effort to remove Miller.
The Minnesota Board of Nursing has called an emergency meeting to consider removing its beleaguered executive director over an unspecified “personnel issue.”
In an email to board staff Tuesday morning, President Laura Elseth said Executive Director Kimberly Miller was on leave “effective today.”
The move comes at a critical time for the nursing board. It’s been mired in a backlog of complaints against nurses, with some inside the agency blaming Miller for dysfunction in the work environment, according to a ProPublica investigation published in April.
That story detailed how the board’s slow disciplinary process puts the public in harm’s way. The time to resolve complaints had risen to 11 months, on average, and hundreds of cases remained open as of March. As a result, nurses who are accused of serious misconduct are allowed to keep treating patients.
The meeting to determine Miller’s future, scheduled for Thursday, was announced one day after board members, lawyers from the state attorney general’s office and representatives from Minnesota Management and Budget, the state’s human resources arm, gathered in an emergency meeting that was closed to the public. The purpose was “preliminary consideration of allegations against” Miller, according to Elseth.
Management and Budget confirmed last month that the agency had received complaints about Miller and was reviewing them. Additional details about the investigation are not public because they are related to a “personnel issue,” spokesperson Patrick Hogan said.
Current and former staff members and a former board member told ProPublica that Miller’s poor leadership was among the reasons for the backlog and for turnover among the board’s staff. David Jiang, a former board member, wrote in his resignation letter to Gov. Tim Walz that Miller had created a culture among staff that was “strained” if not “dysfunctional.”
William Hager, a former legal analyst for the board, raised concerns about Miller’s capabilities in a 2022 email to another staff member. “I am very concerned the Director seems to have been unaware of this ‘backlog,’” he wrote. Although the board’s backlog started increasing before Miller became executive director in August 2021, it has grown during her tenure.
In a previous interview with ProPublica, Miller acknowledged the backlog and said the board was working to “right the boat,” though she did not respond to questions about complaints surrounding her job performance.
Miller and 11 board members who attended the meeting on Monday did not respond to requests for comment.