In the news: Dr. Robert Ashcraft talks board governance with The Press Democrat (Sonoma County, CA)

In the news: Dr. Robert Ashcraft talks board governance with The Press Democrat (Sonoma County, CA)

California publication seeks expert perspective from Dr. Ashcraft in wake of local nonprofit scandal

June 11, 2022

Robert Ashcraft, PhD, the executive director of the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation, was asked for comment on best practices around board governance and communication in the wake of a scandal at a Sonoma County, Calif., prep school. Kaylee Tornay from The Press Democrat wrote the story:

Almost a year to the day that news broke of a sexual harassment scandal involving a teacher at the elite Sonoma Academy prep school, two attorneys have filed a class action suit seeking tuition refunds for alumni who felt they were misled about their safety. ...

[When asked for comment], none of the trustees responded, save for one board member who declined to speak when reached by phone.

Two experts on nonprofit governance said board silence in crisis situations is typical.

"That you haven't received response from your probe of board members is not unusual and is typically the norm," said Robert Ashcraft, executive director of the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation at Arizona State University.

"However, it is good practice for an inquiry like yours to be responded to within a reasonable period of time by someone designated in official capacity to speak for the organization," he said in an email.

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