What's going on at PPIE?

Director out, doors closed, but PPIE board is saying nothing

What's going on at the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education Foundation, better known as PPIE?

A month ago, Susan Hayes, the organization's longtime executive director, stood with several PPIE board members as she presented a check for $570,000 to the Pleasanton school board for a group photo that's on PPIE's web and Facebook pages.

Today, she's out as PPIE's leader, told by its board president Bob Miller, a research and development director at The Clorox Company, that her contract would not be renewed June 30 when it expired.

The door's locked at PPIE's offices at 333 Division St., the office closed and the phone switched to an answering machine. No note on the door to direct visitors (or possible contributors) to another PPIE location or depository. No press releases to tell the public that Hayes is no longer the director. No public announcement to the thousands in the community who support PPIE and Hayes' efforts to raise money for Pleasanton schools. Nothing about changes on the organization's Facebook page and website. Nothing.

Only a few of the 11 board members the Weekly contacted replied to our question about what's going on at PPIE, and just two seemed to know much about the change. Miller is on vacation and also hasn't responded. Others, including city and civic leaders, knew little or nothing about changes at PPIE, although several said they heard major changes and organizational restructuring are planned. The city owns and leases the building PPIE occupies on Division Street.

It's known that the PPIE board has recently been considering how it can continue to grow and have an even greater impact on excellence in education for Pleasanton, developing plans and strategies for the near future.

"As we've done this work, we realize we are at a transition point, needing to shift the focus for the next few years in order to achieve our stretch goals and deliver even more to the community, and we are aligned that the skills needed for the next phase are very different from the skills used recently," said Joan Laursen, PPIE and Pleasanton school board member. "We will be seeking a new executive director to drive this work."

In her PowerPoint presentation to the school board in June, Hayes pointed out that in addition to the $570,000 check being presented, PPIE over the last three years has donated more than $550,000 annually to the school district. This represented its highest donation levels in consecutive years and 40% of the total donations given in the past decade.

"Having achieved new consistent levels of giving to the district, PPIE seems poised for growth," Hayes said to loud applause.

But the growth planned will go forward without Hayes, although PPIE supporters say it's been her tireless efforts to gain the generous support of the Pleasanton community that has raised the contributions needed to help schools maintain excellence by meeting classroom needs unfunded by other means.

During Hayes' tenure, fundraisers included benefit concerts, the annual Pleasanton Run for Education, a giving fund and corporate matching programs. Her efforts included being where financial help for schools might be available, often at meetings with the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, homeowners associations and the City Council.

Someone else will pick up these duties now, but many agree that the change seems to come at an awkward time.

The Pleasanton school board will meet July 30 to consider a multimillion-dollar bond measure it plans to place on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot. To gain the needed 55% voter approval, it will need strong campaign support from organizations such as PPIE.

Also on Nov. 8, voters will select candidates to fill three seats on the school board. Two of the three incumbents have announced they will seek re-election, but even so, election campaigns could be disruptive for a new PPIE director and fundraising effort.

PPIE is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation and is not political. Founded in 1985, it has weathered successfully changes in executive directors, political campaigns and fundraising strategies. The leadership is indicating that changes are coming again.

Supporters just hope that the PPIE board of directors will be more transparent in keeping them informed about what's going on at PPIE.

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9 people like this
Posted by Timothy T
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

Though the money is, of course, welcome to help keep librarians and tech support in schools, PPIE has never once hit their fundraising goal. Something that I found a bit odd in one of the richest cities in America.

I sincerely hope the bond measure gets on the ballot and passes. Those without children should plant a tree knowing that they might never get to sit in its shade.

10 people like this
Posted by Megan M
a resident of Val Vista
on Jul 11, 2016 at 9:58 am

Why make a mountain out of a molehill? Could be PPIE is on a summer break, especially since there is no ED right now, and it is summer vacation for the schools. Just because one disaffected employee complains, the media looks for a mad conspiracy. My kids have benefited greatly from PPIE over the years, and I support them fully. I'm sure that like all non-profits, they occasionally need to take a hard look at how they are doing things. Relax and take a breath! There are a lot bigger things to worry about, like the bond measure.

9 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 11, 2016 at 11:17 am

PPIE has historically had challenges with transparency. The current state of PPIE is disappointing but not surprising. A pity for an organization that needs the community to trust it with its contributions.

Susan Hayes is not just a "disaffected employee". She was the chief executive officer, who, until very recently, was the public face of PPIE as well. To abruptly release her without a public statement and then to effectively shut down the offices and not respond to media inquiries is concerning.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Before the community gives PPIE future money, it should request and receive full transparency.

19 people like this
Posted by Janeen
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Jul 11, 2016 at 11:25 am

Susan Hayes has done a phenomenal job for PPIE and for our schools. There are now big shoes to fill for the new ED. Best of luck to Susan - I have so much respect for her and am grateful for all she's done for our community.

4 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 12, 2016 at 12:11 am

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

PPIE needs to start recording and publishing donation demographics and metrics. We need to see if donations match the community - publishing this information to help push communities to become more involved may seem directed, and it is, but with better donor information marketing and fundraising can be better focused.

4 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 14, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Downtowner is a registered user.

I found it odd that the PW article did not interview Susan Hayes to get her point of view (or, if she declined comment, to mention that fact). Nor did Mr. Bing appear to ask any of the Board members why Hayes was fired or resigned.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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