(Photo by C. Smyth for Visit Philadelphia)
Back in March, the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia announced it would undergo a restructuring after concerns were raised that its funds were being misused.
That restructuring has come. Among the biggest forthcoming changes are that Ashley Del Bianco will step down as executive director and a new board will be formed with a mix of city employees and those working outside of local government.
Under the chairmanship of the Mayor Michael Nutter-appointed Desiree Peterkin Bell, the city’s nonprofit arm incurred $52,000 of undocumented expenses before Peterkin Bell left in 2016. The fund has since been under scrutiny for its financial practices — and more recently, Del Bianco was the target of backlash from Nutter himself for questioning those expenses.
Accordingly, the fund will undergo “an update and strengthening of our financial policies” in order to “to better align ourselves to what the city standards are,” Del Bianco said in an interview Thursday. “We’ve always reflected those, but we really needed to update our procedures to codify that.”
Del Bianco also serves as the city’s chief grants officer and will keep that job. Until this point, she said, 20 percent of her professional time had been “lent” to the Mayor’s Fund in her role as its executive director.
“What we’ve found over the past year is that we really need a full-time executive director to be fully functioning,” she said. “Twenty percent was never an adequate amount of time. That’s not enough for anyone to be effective in leading a nonprofit.”
Other changes will include the elimination of all fund-associated credit cards; new grant application and approval procedures; and an all-new nine-member board, including five members who do not work for the City of Philadelphia but may come from the nonprofit sector, to be set by September. Del Bianco will assist with the executive director search and also serve on the forthcoming board.
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The fund currently has two full-time employees and reported $15.5 million in total assets in 2014.
Del Bianco’s tenure was short — she was appointed by Nutter in 2015 — and it remains to be seen whether the lingering home of discretionary spending for the city’s executive branch is better or worse off. But this new era of purposeful transparency and oversight will allow Philadelphia’s nonprofit and philanthropic sector to step up and influence the fund’s future dealings. Show ’em how it’s done.-30-
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