Foundation Hires Native (Good), But Doesn’t Disclose Salary (Bad) | Columns

Note, dear readers, I don’t mean to be mean here – for several good reasons.

But was anyone else curious how the private nonprofit Jefferson Foundation — which has awarded 1,220 grants to local nonprofits over the past eight years for a total, up to present, about $54.7 million — came to hire a board member’s son as president and chief executive officer?

I can only speculate on the level of compensation for the new CEO, noting that the two former CEOs who held the position were paid around $200,000. The foundation, citing board policy, will not disclose the new employee’s salary now, preferring to wait until it is made public by the IRS.

I expect to wait a year or more for the response, as 2021 financial information for nonprofits is not yet available, and the deadline for nonprofits to file financial information for 2022 is May 2023 – or later, if an extension is requested and granted.

A March 24 story by Leader staffer Tony Krausz announced the January 1 hiring of Michael Ravenscraft, 39, to lead the foundation. Ravenscraft now lives in Kirkwood, but was born and raised in Festus, graduating from Festus High School a few years ago.

Since 2014, he has served as CEO of the Jefferson-Franklin Counties Office of Nonprofit Job Training Programs, located in Arnold.

Ravenscraft is the son of Ron Ravenscraft, who served as chairman of the Jefferson Foundation board of trustees since the agency’s inception in 2013. He stepped down as chairman late last year when Michael was in charge. studied for the top job, but remained on the nine-member board.

The foundation was created to distribute grants to nonprofits and local government agencies, funded by proceeds from the 2013 merger of Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Crystal City with Mercy.

These grants have been of incredible benefit to the community, touching thousands of lives and destined to continue in perpetuity. That’s because the foundation uses investment funds to make grants, while continually building the initial $153 million nest egg.

All of this makes a journalist want to be nice.

Another point in favor of civility is the very civil response the leader got when he asked about leadership changes.

Krausz asked every question he could think of for his story, and so did I when I followed before writing this column. Our questions were answered, with the exception, of course, of the one mentioned above.

The new chairman of the board, Dr. Jeffrey Draves, a local family physician, told me that the former Ravenscraft recused himself from all discussions about Michael and abstained from voting on his hiring.

Draves also went into detail about how Michael Ravenscraft was selected.

He said the seed was planted in 2017, after original CEO Jeff Buck announced his desire to retire.

The foundation’s board screened 200 national applications to hire Juan Figueroa of Connecticut, who had 10 years of experience with a smaller but similar foundation.

Michael Ravenscraft was among the 199 who didn’t get the job, but he made the short list of finalists.

Figueroa, who told the chief he was getting a salary of $195,000, quit after 20 months and Buck came out of retirement to lead the foundation again.

But last year Buck, now 70, said it was really time to retire, even though he would volunteer on the board.

Draves said the council opted against another search and re-engaged with young Ravenscraft.

He had been a strong candidate before, but didn’t get the job because some board members thought he lacked experience. The years that followed provided more of that, Draves said. In addition, he had a solid background in finance. A local education was a plus.

Draves acknowledged that the vote to hire Ravenscraft was not unanimous. One board member felt that another search should have been done and voted against the majority.

“It was nothing against Michael,” Draves said. “He (the board member) just thought we should have opened it up and asked for nominations again.”

But Draves said he thought Ravenscraft was the best candidate and the board felt his name should not be held against him.

The foundation is a private organization and Draves had no legal obligation to provide any of this background. So I respect his openness.

I also respect the board’s desire to stay local this time around. The Leader also likes to hire this way. Local community products are likely to invest more of their heart in local work than someone with roots elsewhere.

I can attest to Michael’s long local history.

When he was in pre-kindergarten, his parents often took him to play at the Festus R-6 school track. We lived nearby and did the same with our own pre-K baby boy.

Naturally, the children, both with red hair, got together and happily played together. It is a nostalgic memory that I have never given up.

I had been a journalist for a while at the time, but I hadn’t imagined that one day in the distant future I would ask the red-haired child who wasn’t mine: “So how much do they pay you ? ?”

In 2022, Michael declined to say, as did Draves, both noting that the foundation has a permanent policy of not disclosing salaries. They did not want to overturn a precedent. “It will be disclosed through filings (to the IRS),” Michael Ravenscraft pointed out.

And here is my point: answering this question today is much better than answering it one day, especially with the family connection that exists here.

Almost transparent is not as good as fully transparent.

A community fundraising campaign helped create Jefferson Memorial Hospital, the ancestor of today’s Mercy Jefferson Hospital. Thus, the origins of the foundation are public and not private.

I can’t think of a good reason to delay telling people how much the foundation pays its administrative staff.

It only creates unnecessary suspicion about the motives of good people doing good things.