The board of directors of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation has voted to place Emmett D. Carson on administrative leave from his role as president, CEO, and board member until further notice while an investigation into workplace misconduct at the foundation continues. The board also announced that Greg Avis, a founding member and past chair of the SVCF board, has been appointed interim CEO.
Board members Wade W. Loo, David P. Lopez, and Rebecca Guerra will serve as special advisors to Avis during his interim leadership, providing day-to-day leadership support and counsel. Loo will focus his work and advice on the day-to-day management of the ongoing investigation and will oversee communications in response to concerns and input from key stakeholders and the community at large. Lopez will focus on the continued work of the philanthropic investments and community impact projects to which SVCF's donors have committed. And Guerra will bring her human resources expertise to the organization. A special committee of the board will work closely with Avis during his interim service, with support from board chair Sam Johnson and incoming chair Dan'l Lewin.
Carson has led the organization — which was created in 2006 by the merger of the Peninsula Community Foundation and the Community Foundation Silicon Valley — since its founding and has been widely viewed as a pioneering and effective leader in the community foundation field. However, allegations of sexual harassment and mismanagement by his chief lieutenant, Mari Ellen Loijens, and her subsequent resignation put Carson in a vulnerable position, with the Chronicle of Philanthropy reporting that at least one major SVCF donor had called for his resignation and had threatened to move his donor-advised fund elsewhere if "the right actions" were not taken.
"[The] investigation will be thorough," the board said in its announcement, "and the board remains committed to taking all necessary actions once it has concluded to ensure that the Silicon Valley Community Foundation thrives today and for many years into the future."