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Foundation faces calls for new leadership

Original post made on Apr 26, 2018

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation is reeling from a crisis of leadership following allegations last week that the organization had allowed a toxic workplace culture to fester for years. On Thursday, its founding CEO Emmett Carson was placed on paid leave.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 26, 2018, 12:26 PM

Comments (15)

Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2018 at 1:55 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 26, 2018 at 1:58 pm

How are people like Mari Ellen Reynolds Loijens tolerated in leadership positions, especially in places like Silicon Valley?

Everyone knew about her outrageous behavior, yet the CEO and Board did nothing until forced to by outsiders. [Portion removed.]

Posted by SLS Alum
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2018 at 3:35 pm

As a community volunteer and a former board member of another community foundation, I was surprised to learn that Emmett Carson tolerated this behavior for a decade. However, I think the volunteer foundation board was not likely privy to the complaints of employees and the stories that were told to the HR department. The staff of nonprofit organizations often place board members on a bit of a pedestal and the CEO and senior staff shape the information presented to the board. Factor in the ordinary board turnover and it could easily be the case that no board members were in the know.

Posted by Asia
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 27, 2018 at 5:10 am

Sounds like a case of Pride & Greed .

Posted by Former SVCF Employeyy
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 27, 2018 at 7:56 am

All of these allegations are true. In fact, the toxic work environment was not specific only to Mari Ellen's department but the entire organization! It was by far the worst job I have ever had! The VP of HR Daiva needs to be placed on leave as well; it was very well known she would keep nothing confidential.

Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 27, 2018 at 10:27 am

Seems board members of these non-profits just want the prestige of serving on multiple boards without the real responsibility of knowing what is going on. As long as the money is coming in, that's the level of their concern.

Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 27, 2018 at 11:56 am

@SLS Alum - Agree that the exececutive Staff is going to use a positive spin when presenting to the board, but board members participate on standing committees and task forces which interact closely with staff on issues pertaining to governance, fundraising and communications to name a few. If the board did not detect the stench of this toxic environement they were asleep at the wheel, if they had no contact with staff, clearly this board was not doing its job.

Posted by Downtown parent
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 27, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Just think about the whole concept. This organization is an INTERMEDIARY between big donors (tax write-off) and smaller non-profits that receive just a modest portion of the donated funds. In order to accomplish this goal, they have 150 employees and the CEO's salary is 800,000+ They do not produce or make anything... WOW ... just WOW

Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 27, 2018 at 1:22 pm

@downtown parent - WOW is right. Donor Advised Funds are a great way to give away your money and to do good for non profits, however calling SVCF a COMMUNITY FOUNDATION is a misnomer, SVCF is based in Mountain View, a city grappling with the homeless living on the streets, yet in 2015/2016/2017 SVCF gave a TOTAL of 316K to Mountain View's Community Services Agency. According to SVCF website "SVCF supports donor circles, one of which focuses safety net services' Apparently the safety net has fallen through, 300K from a 'community' foundation with assets of 13 BILLION is pathetic a sad commentary on how the affluent view those in their community who are truly in need.


Makes for interesting reading, also note the 25 MILLION transfer to Goldman Sachs Philanthropy in NY in their list of grantees...give me a break.

Posted by CEO pay
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2018 at 2:37 pm

Being on paid leave for SVCF not so bad, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that Emmett Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation made $865,715 in 2015, Far surpassing his industry peers. source Web Link

Posted by community member
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2018 at 5:40 pm

I question the integrity of the board for allowing Carson and Loijens to get away with such destruction. Nonprofits are not particularly known for demonstrating stellar leadership. Staff dysfunction, meanness, bullying, etc., exists (as in the case of the nonprofit I work for) and as I've learned, boards of directors don't really want to know about these issues. Their focus is on the executive leadership. But with so much turnover at SVCF, and apparently direct and indirect evidence of staff mismanagement, particularly by Loijens, I think the SVCF board needs to re-examine it's role in the current situation and decide whether they support the mission of SVCF, or not.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 27, 2018 at 7:38 pm

I donated to a local charity at holiday time, for a couple of years, then noticied a change (2 or so years ago), that this “community” foundation would now be the intermediary, processing the donations. (One mailed one’s donation to CF of Silicon Valley.)
Thereafter, I was approached by others locally and my name and contact info was clearly given out. So - I stopped donating to the local charity....the only way is to vote with your feet. I didn’t agree with CF of Silicon Valley’s practices.
People in Development deserve professional salaries, but not outrageously high, unless their performance corresponds.
Charity Navigator website is one resource to check before donating to a non-profit (note: not all charities/non-profits are included, but it’s pretty good).

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2018 at 7:43 pm

I left a nonprofit whose leader was abusive. It was the best move I ever made. Board members who spoke with me afterwards didn't know about the leader's bad behavior. I'm glad Carson is not getting away with sanctioning such egregiously terrible behavior. I hope they both suffer tremendously in their career, and that their clout is greatly reduced. They deserve no power, no respect and no sympathy.

Posted by Lydia Kou
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 28, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Sadly, "non-profit" organizations are no longer what they started out to be. It was, once upon a time, for furthering a particular social cause and the revenues generated from donations were disbursed to achieve its goals.

However, today it seems that the revenues generated buys the advocacy of the non-profit organization and for high administration costs which mostly goes toward staff compensation.

Trustworthiness brings forward public confidence which is comes from accountability. Leadership is key. Therefore, integrity and ethics in this field is paramount.

Let's not forget the donors who are generous, but they have just as much responsibility for the failure of the non-profits they donate to if all it is for them is a write off and PR reasons.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 28, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If you want to support a non-profit with true integrity look at PVF:

Web Link

At PVF, we like to test new ideas for grantmaking. We try out theories, keep those that work, discard those that don’t, and share those experiences from our living lab at conferences and with foundations around the country. We are actively creating the future of philanthropy by taking risks and trying out new grantmaking approaches.

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