Nonprofits Could Learn a Thing or Two from Yahoo When it Comes to “Executive Transition”

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September 6, 2011; Source: All Things Digital | It’s the modern equivalent of a break-up by Post-It Note:

To all,

I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.


So went the e-mailed note sent out to staff by the then-CEO of Yahoo, Carol Bartz. Why would NPQ cover this? Only because we have been tracing a recent rash of disappearing CEOs at nonprofits like the Jacob Center for Neighborhood Innovation last week. . . . Stories of leaders who are standing up at the Kiwanis Club podium one night and then—poof!—are gone the next morning, with no indication of the reason or even whether they were fired or resigned or had made off to the Cayman Islands with half of what remains of the endowment.

This is occurring even at the very highest levels, with a case in point being the mysterious vanishing act of Patrick Corvington at the Corporation for National and Community Service. We hear that people are still looking behind the curtains to try to figure out what happened. Talk about a board practice designed to erode confidence: the now-the-wonderful-CEO’s-here–and-now-he’s-not trick has to be one of the worst.

At least in this case we are all clear about how the dirty deed at Yahoo occurred, who did the deed, and what the reaction was of the CEO in question. A refreshing change.

And actually the market cheered Bartz’s forced walk off the gangplank. Yahoo’s stock rose on the news. Sometimes it would be nice for communities to get such clear information in the nonprofit/philanthropic world so donors and communities are able to pick their horses with some sort of confidence.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Former Staffer

    Many CNCS staff know why Mr. Corvington left but outside of this agency, it is his personal business and not the public’s.

  • Ed Baird

    For all of us interested in these matters, we might do well to pay equal attention to the comings and goings of attractive, less powerful staff near the CEO shortly before and after some of these high-level moves. The Clinton Administration botches surely gave us a lesson that might well be applicable to the CNCS case and that of other disappearing CEOs.

    And, with public funds going to support these CEO salaries, including Corvington’s, I’m not sure I’m in agreement with Former Staffer that these “affairs” are not the public’s business.

    quote name=”Former Staffer”]Many CNCS staff know why Mr. Corvington left but outside of this agency, it is his personal business and not the public’s.[/quote]

  • Agree with Ed

    How the Corvington scandal completely avoided the public eye is beyond me.