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.