Bazán out as foundation chief

Andrea Bazán
Andrea Bazán

Ret Boney

DURHAM, N.C. — Six weeks after Andrea Bazán was given an immediate, “indefinite,” paid sabbatical by the board of the Triangle Community Foundation, the organization announced she will not return to her job as president, a position she held for six years.

Phail Wynn Jr., board chair of the foundation and vice president for Durham and regional affairs for Duke University, will continue to serve as interim president and CEO.

The reason for Bazán’s departure was not given, and Wynn wrote in an email to the Philanthropy Journal that the announcement would be “the only statement TCF will make about the leadership transition until further notice.”

While Wynn could not be reached to confirm Bazán was ousted, sources close to the Durham-based foundation and to Bazán say both the sabbatical and Bazán’s departure were initiated by the foundation.

When asked whether her departure was at the foundation’s urging, Bazán said, “I’d rather not comment on that.”

“The Triangle Community Foundation was a total gift for me, although it’s been busy,” she said. “It’s been a very fulfilling position for me to have had the honor to be the president and to work for such a talented board and staff.”

Bazán says her next move is yet to be determined, but added she plans to stay in North Carolina and work in public service in some way.

During her sabbatical, which began May 23, Bazán was paid by the foundation, sources say.

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

It is unclear whether she will receive a severance package, and Wynn did not respond to questions on the issue.

While the foundation has refused to provide details about the sabbatical or departure, sources have told PJ the board was concerned about staff unrest and turnover, and about Bazán’s frequent distraction from foundation business to fulfill other roles, some of them paid.

Bazán, for example, serves on the boards of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, and the Wells Fargo Raleigh Advisory Board.

According to Blue Cross, its board meets 10 days a year, and documents filed with the N.C. Department of Insurance show Bazán received a total of $49,605 in 2010 for her board service.

Christine Shaw, a Wells Fargo spokesperson, says the advisory board meets four times a year, but refused to disclose the amount Bazán is paid for her board service, saying only that the amount is “minimal.”

Bazán also served on the board of La Raza, the country’s leading Hispanic advocacy organization, from 2002 to 2011, including a year as board chair.

While the board meets six days each year and receives only minimal travel reimbursement, the board chair is expected to devote “significantly” more time to the organization, says Lisa Navarette of La Raza.

The board chair is consulted frequently, and is expected to attend the organization’s annual meeting and award ceremonies and to participate on panels and in workshops.

And in 2009, Bazán was named to the Southwest Border Taskforce of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“There were concerns about her attendance,” one source says of Bazán. “She just wasn’t around.”

That seems to have taken a toll on foundation staff and may have led to high turnover recently, a trend sources have told the Philanthropy Journal was of concern to the board.

Lori O’Keefe, who joined the foundation in 2005, resigned as director of philanthropic services this spring, but was brought back as interim chief operating officer once Bazán began her sabbatical.

Fred Stang, an associate with Moss + Ross, a Triangle-based consulting firm, retired a year ago after serving as the foundation’s director of development for 16 years.

Robyn Fehrman, who joined the foundation in 2007, resigned her position as community program officer to run the Eastern North Carolina chapter of Teach for America beginning last month.

And the foundation has employed three chief financial officers in a three-year period.

The leadership changes of the past six weeks, while disruptive, appear to have had a positive effect on staff morale.

“Internally, the foundation has done very well during the time of her sabbatical,” one source says.

The Triangle Community Foundation, created in 1983, manages more than 750 charitable funds totaling about $143.4 million and has awarded almost $13 million in grants so far this year.

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