NEW YORK, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- In a significant restructuring, the
Board of Trustees of The James Beard Foundation met today and announced major
governance changes. The changes come as Trustees were briefed on the results
of an internal investigation of financial and administrative issues facing the
The new positions of Chairman and two (2) Vice Chairs of the Board of
Trustees were created. Trustee George P. Sape, a New York attorney, was
elected Chairman and will oversee financial and operational strategy. Longtime
Trustee Diane D. Kern-who is also Chairman of the House Preservation Fund-was
elected First Vice Chairman; Robert W. Jones, Vice Chairman-Investment Banking
and Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, was elected Second Vice Chairman.
Ms. Kern will also assume the role of acting Executive Director, responsible
for the day-to-day management of the foundation. The Board expects to name a
fulltime executive director in the coming months. Trustee Anne Byrd was
elected Treasurer, and founding Trustee Kathleen Perry was elected Secretary.
The Board also accepted the resignation of President and Trustee Leonard
Pickell, who notified the Board of his intention to resign on Tuesday
afternoon of this week. Pickell had been President of the Foundation since
The Board also assigned to Mr. Jones the role of Chairman of the Finance
Committee, and appointed Trustee Marcie McNelis as Chairman of the Governance
"These are first steps toward resolving the financial and operational
issues facing the organization, but they are important steps," said Mr. Sape,
who is managing partner of Epstein, Becker & Green, a large New York law firm.
"Separating the operational and oversight functions of The James Beard
Foundation is critical to ensure that our accounting and financial structure
is properly repaired, and will remain sound, transparent and effective as The
Foundation continues to grow."
"And let us be clear: The good work of the James Beard Foundation
continues," Mr. Sape said. "There is no organization in this country that has
had a more positive impact in promoting the culinary arts. We intend to keep
it that way."
Trustees were briefed on the results of a three-month internal
investigation conducted by outside counsel Michael Berger that showed that
certain expenditures of The Foundation were not properly substantiated or
documented. The investigation produced no findings of wrongdoing on the part
of the paid staff of The Foundation, or the many outside volunteers who donate
their time in support of The Foundation.
The Trustees took quick action to address the investigation's findings by
improving internal controls for foundation expenses and addressing management
oversight of various of The Foundation's programs.
The Trustees also retained new accountants, Goldstein, Golub and Kessler
(GGK) to act as The Foundation's outside accountants. The new auditing team
has been charged with addressing The Foundation's delinquent filing of
financial documents at both the state and federal level. The Trustees and Mr.
Berger also have been working with the office of the New York State Attorney
General to resolve issues relating to The Foundation's failure to file annual
reports in 2003 and 2004.
Once the proper accounting and auditing of The Foundation's finances are
complete, the Board of Trustees will consider appropriate next steps.
Mr. Sape said: "We have a foundation whose administration and financial
oversight functions did not keep pace with the rapid growth of the
organization. That changes today."
"The Trustees are committed to ensuring that The James Beard Foundation
remains financially strong, culturally vibrant, and dedicated to preserving
James Beard's legacy and commitment to the culinary arts."
SOURCE James Beard Foundation