Share This Page

The Heinz Endowments departures: Answers needed

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The local nonprofit/philanthropic community's concerns about high-profile departures from The Heinz Endowments will only grow — as will speculation and rumor — unless the organization forthrightly addresses what's going on.

This week's email statement from Robert Vagt about leaving as president certainly didn't shed the sort of light that's needed, merely noting his six years with The Heinz Endowments and his upcoming 67th birthday. It thus could not ease minds already concerned by August's departures of Caren Glotfelty, senior director of the environmental program, and Douglas L. Root, communications director.

Sources have told the Trib that board member and “green” alternative-energy advocate Andre Heinz clashed with Ms. Glotfelty over a grant to establish the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which aims to bring together environmentalists and shale-gas industry leaders to jointly promote safe drilling. The endowments caught flak over that grant from the liberal Public Accountability Initiative, which also disliked Mr. Vagt's ties to the oil and gas industry, including his seat on the board of America's largest natural-gas pipeline operator.

As one of the nation's 50 biggest foundations and the Pittsburgh area's second biggest, awarding $60 million annually, The Heinz Endowments should explain the departures. Otherwise, the organization leaves stakeholders and nonprofits that rely on it — and a region it affects profoundly — in the dark.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.