Heinz staff shift linked to chief's son
By Bill Zlatos and Debra Erdley
Published: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, 10:40 p.m.
Andre Heinz, a son of the late Sen. H. John Heinz, reportedly assumed control of The Heinz Endowments board when his mother became ill in July and engineered the departures of two key employees, hinting that one of the region's most influential foundations is changing course.
“It seems like Andre has stepped into the void” when Endowments Chairwoman Teresa Heinz was hospitalized in Boston as a result of a seizure, one member of the nonprofit community said. “Whether that (role) will be temporary or permanent, no one knows. He's supposedly the one who came in and dictated the personnel changes.”
The source is one of several nonprofit leaders the Tribune-Review interviewed, most of whom requested anonymity.
The Trib tried to reach the 15 Heinz board members, including Andre Heinz; they declined to comment or could not be reached.
Caren Glotfelty, senior director of the environmental program at Heinz, and Douglas L. Root, communications director, left their posts Wednesday after more than a decade. Glotfelty declined to comment, and Root did not respond to requests for an interview.
Endowments President Robert Vagt declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
The future of Heinz Endowments could significantly affect the region. The foundation supports arts and culture, children and families, community and economic development, and environmental programs. With assets of $1.5 billion and grant awards averaging $60 million a year, it ranks second in Western Pennsylvania and among the country's top 50 foundations. It has put money toward everything from renovating Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Downtown, to the design or construction of green buildings such as the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Aaron Dorfman, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, said sudden departures of key staffers at foundations indicate serious disagreements within the organization.
“There's always a confidentiality agreement, and no one will ever talk about it,” he said. “Reputational capital is really important to philanthropies, so the purchased silence is worth the cost.”
Although he didn't know what happened at Heinz, Dorfman said it would seem early for one of Teresa Heinz's three sons to step in and shake things up.
Other experts disagree. One source close to the foundation said Heinz picked her middle son to succeed her and that he perceived Glotfelty as blocking what he wants to do with the foundation.
“There has always been a culture of deference to what the family wants, and the family controls the board,” the source said.
Sources say Andre Heinz, 43, who joined the Endowments board in 1993, is the most active of the senator's children in the foundation. Sons H. John IV, 46, and Chris, 40, are board members. Chris' wife, Sasha, and the senator's stepsister, Wendy Mackenzie, also are on the board; the senator's stepmother, Drue Heinz, is an emeritus director.
Maxwell King, former Endowments president, in an email recalled working with the Heinz family and foundation staff:
“Andre Heinz had a particular interest in the environment, and he asked smart, tough questions. But the same is absolutely true of Caren Glotfelty and Doug Root. They are the very best: smart, capable and impressively professional.”
Andre Heinz has his father's Hollywood looks, although People magazine in 2004 named Chris Heinz one of the “50 hottest bachelors,” four years before he married Sasha.
Andre Heinz is “smart, good-looking and charming — and completely insecure,” one source said. “He wants to control the outcome, but he's not secure enough to have an adult interaction about it.”
Fluent in Swedish, Heinz reportedly keeps homes in Stockholm and Paris but is registered to vote in the United States at his mother's Fox Chapel address. He holds a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University, a master's degree in environmental studies from Yale University, and was a research assistant at Carnegie Mellon University.
He advocates for sustainable development, a field that promotes using resources in a way that doesn't jeopardize their future use.
Early in his career, he worked with William McDonough, a green architect and designer in Charlottesville, Va., and was involved with The Natural Step, a Swedish nonprofit group.
He worked on the 2004 presidential campaign of his stepfather, John Kerry, then a senator and now secretary of State.
On the campaign trail, Heinz became known for his impersonations of Bill Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even his stepfather. His phone impressions of Kerry were so accurate that it baffled the Senate staff, The New York Times reported.
An outspoken advocate of wind, solar and biofuel energy technologies, Heinz founded the Sustainable Technologies Fund in Sweden. In a 2011 speech in Stockholm, he spoke passionately about solar energy technologies and their potential to improve life for the poor.
“Our greatest resource is the sun. It's not just the sun, and it's not just our money, and it's not even our brains,” he said. “At the end of the day, it's each other.”
Heinz might have misgivings about America's natural gas boom. On March 15, he retweeted on his Twitter account this comment from Jigar Shah, founder of a solar energy company: “Natural gas as a bridge to the future is like ‘Don't ask, don't tell' as a bridge to gay rights. Obama will regret this policy stance.”
Shale gas clash
Sources said Glotfelty and Heinz clashed over a grant to establish the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, a group of environmentalists and industry leaders who believe drilling can be done safely.
Glotfelty, 66, of Mt. Washington came to the foundation 13 years ago. She had worked in government in Pennsylvania and Maryland on land use and water quality.
“Caren can be pretty stiff, very set, very ‘my way, this is how it's being done,' not very flexible,” one nonprofit leader said.
News stories in June cited criticism of the grant by energy leaders and environmentalists. One barb said the Endowments, which heavily supports environmental groups opposed to fracking, was playing both sides of the shale gas extraction issue.
“I'm sure Andre and other family (members) heard at cocktail parties, ‘How could you let your family name be dragged in the mud?' ” one source said.
A report by Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit whose research targets business and government, cited Endowments president Vagt's ties to the oil and gas industry and membership on the board of Kinder Morgan Inc., operator of natural gas pipelines.
Some observers believe the grant became the breaking point for Glotfelty and Root, a spokesman for former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy before he headed internal and outside communications for the Endowments.
Others wonder about morale among foundation employees.
“It's unsettling when someone so established is uprooted like that, so I would imagine it is demoralizing,” a nonprofit leader said. “I'm sure their attitude is, ‘Am I next?' ”
Staff writer Bobby Kerlik contributed to this report. Bill Zlatos and Debra Erdley are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Zlatos can be reached at 412-320-7828 or email@example.com. Erdley can be reached at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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