Turnover, distractions cited in Bazán sabbatical

Phail Wynn, left, and Andrea Bazán
Phail Wynn, left, and Andrea Bazán

Ret Boney

DURHAM, N.C. – High turnover among staff and too much time on non-foundation business are factors in the immediate paid sabbatical granted Andrea Bazán by the board of directors of the Triangle Community Foundation, say sources close to the Durham-based funder.

While foundation leaders have declined to comment on the sabbatical, which is for an “indefinite” period, sources say staff turnover was an issue and the board was concerned about the significant amount of time Bazán spent on non-foundation business.

Bazán’s sabbatical from her position as president began May 23. In her absence, foundation board chair Phail Wynn Jr. is serving as part-time, interim president and CEO.

Lori O’Keefe, who reportedly resigned recently as director of philanthropic services, now is serving as chief operating officer on an interim basis.

During her sabbatical, sources say, Bazán will continue to be paid by the foundation.

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010, Bazán’s base compensation was $160,680, according to the annual Form 990 the foundation filed with the IRS.

Wynn, O’Keefe, Bazán and Kelly Harrell, communications director for the Triangle Community Foundation, all have declined repeated requests by the Philanthropy Journal for comment.

“The details of Andrea’s sabbatical from the foundation are confidential, and have not been and will not be shared with the news media,” Wynn, vice president for Durham and regional affairs for Duke University, wrote in an email to the Philanthropy Journal on May 27. “There will be no further comment from the foundation at this time.”

Within the past year, the foundation lost at least two long-time, high-level employees.

Fred Stang, who served as director of development for 16 years, retired in July of 2010. He now works with the Triangle-based consulting firm Moss + Ross.

Lori O’Keefe, who joined the foundation in 2005, reportedly had resigned and was planning to join her husband in his wine business, and now has been promoted on an interim basis.

Robyn Fehrman, who joined the foundation in 2007, is leaving her position as community program officer to become the director of the Eastern North Carolina chapter of Teach for America, effective June 20.

And over the last three years, the foundation has employed three chief financial officers: Ben Blankenship left the organization in 2008 after a two-year tenure, Ken Troshinsky left in 2010, and Robert Naylor, who joined the organization in September 2010, still holds that job.

Bazán, a national Hispanic leader and arguably North Carolina’s most prominent voice on Hispanic issues, has held leadership positions for numerous organizations inside and outside the state.

Until earlier this year, she served on the board of the Council on La Raza, the country’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, including a term as board chair.

She currently sits on the boards of several organizations, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Women’s Forum of North Carolina, Wachovia Bank and Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the leadership council for Hispanics in Philanthropy.

She also serves on the Southwest Border Taskforce of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a group created by the Obama administration in 2009.

Created in 1983, the foundation manages more than 750 funds with assets totaling over $135 million, and in the year ended June 30, 2010, awarded grants totaling about $12 million, down from about $15 million in fiscal 2009.

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