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SV foundation puts CEO on leave, probes 'culture issue'

Leaders of the Mountain View-based Silicon Valley Community Foundation are scrambling to do damage control in the wake of a sexual harassment and employee abuse scandal that led to the resignation of its No. 2 administrator and saw its CEO placed on leave.

Emmett D. Carson
Carson

The foundation’s board of directors April 26 put CEO Emmett D. Carson on paid administrative leave amid allegations that he turned a blind eye to the reported abuses of Mari Ellen Loijens, chief business, development and brand officer, who resigned April 19 after three employees reported a toxic work environment rife with sexually inappropriate remarks under her leadership. The board hired a team of attorneys to expand its investigation.

The board’s action against Carson came after dozens of current and former foundation employees wrote to board chairman Sam Johnson calling for the CEO’s ouster. Board members voted to place Carson on paid administrative leave “until further notice” while an independent counsel investigates the allegations.

“That investigation will be thorough, and the board remains committed to taking all necessary actions once it has concluded to ensure that Silicon Valley Community Foundation thrives today and for many years into the future,” board members said in a statement last week.

In the meantime, the board has appointed Greg Avis interim CEO of the foundation. Avis is managing partner of Bangtail Partners, a private investment firm.

“While that investigation was first launched following allegations of sexual harassment by one individual, it has since become clear that we may have a larger culture issue that needs to be addressed,” board members said in a statement last week.

The foundation grew by a whopping $5.3 billion in 2017, bringing its total assets to more than $13 billion.

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