Zócalo founder resigns after ASU report found mistreatment of employees

Zócalo Public Square is expected to announce a new executive director in the near future, according to an ASU spokesperson

Gregory Rodriguez, founder of the journalism organization and ASU Knowledge Enterprise Zócalo Public Square, resigned following an investigation into his conduct.

“Today, Gregory Rodriguez submitted his resignation to the university, which the university has accepted. ASU intends to continue operating Zócalo Public Square and will announce a new executive director in the near future,” ASU spokeswoman Katie Paquet said in an email statement.

In anonymous statements to AZCentral, former Zócalo employees said they experienced harassment and the organization lacked clear channels for filing complaints against leadership. 

Paquet confirmed in an email statement that a University investigation found "significant unprofessional conduct" from Rodriguez in his position at Zócalo Public Square. The school was first made aware of employee complaints in August of this year. 

Rodriguez was placed on administrative leave after the University learned of the complaints. Rodriguez was removed from a supervisor position following the investigation as well. 

The Los Angeles-based organization was founded by Rodriguez in 2003 and partnered with ASU in 2011. Zócalo Public Square's mission, according to its website, is to "(connect) people to ideas and to each other by examining essential questions in an accessible, broad-minded, and democratic spirit."

The organization works with multiple major news outlets and hosts discussion events nationally and globally. 

Zócalo's Code of Civility promotes behavior at their events to ensure a welcoming space for event attendees, including staff, but ASU's investigation found these guidelines did not appear to be followed within the workplace culture at Zócalo.  

Employees said Rodriguez created an environment in which employees were encouraged to discuss their personal lives at work, but he used information employees gave him to demean or discriminate against them.

Zócalo is one of ASU's Knowledge Enterprises, which is a partnership where ASU provides support and resources to organizations of all sizes focusing on developing new technology, research, and entrepreneurship.  

Zócalo has not yet made a public statement on the matter. 

In a 2015 interview published by Zócalo, Rodriguez said he stands for "openness and fairness and inclusion."

Reach the reporter at gmlieber@asu.edu or follow @G_Mira_ on Twitter. Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

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