Volume 74, Number 48 | April 06 - 12 , 2005

The James Beard House on W. 12th St. near Seventh Ave. S.

Beard Foundation feels board has right ingredients

By Albert Amateau

The James Beard Foundation, headquartered in the Village home of the late guru of American cuisine, last week completed the restructuring of its board of trustees as a step in the recovery from the scandal last year involving misuse of foundation funds by its former president.

With the announcement of three new trustees on March 29, the 11 members of the old board resigned and the three new members began recruiting other trustees from among restaurant leaders, educators, corporate sponsors and the general public. Dorothy Cann Hamilton, a founder of the French Culinary Institute in Soho, is president of the new board, which so far includes Larry Stone, a sommelier and partner in a San Francisco restaurant, and Jason Wright, senior vice president of public affairs for Merrill Lynch and a trustee of Cooper Union.

As part of the restructuring after the former president, Leonard F. Pickell, Jr., was indicted in December of last year for grand larceny and forgery involving $800,000 in foundation funds, the old board of trustees hired Edna Morris as interim executive director last September to help develop new codes of ethics and fiscal responsibility for the foundation and administer the James Beard Foundations Scholarship programs.

“The restructuring demonstrates a commitment of former and new board members to galvanize the foundation around its mission, objectives and the values on which it was founded,” said Morris. “We are all committed to moving in the same direction.”

Pickell pleaded guilty to most of the charges on Jan. 24 of this year when a sentencing date was set for April 14. He is subject to a prison term of five to 15 years and still faces a civil suit by the foundation.

The foundation board of trustees, when completed, will have up to 14 members who serve without pay and oversee the foundation’s policies, finances, programs and the annual awards event at its headquarters at 167 W. 12th St., the former home of James Beard, who died in 1985. Beard was the reigning American expert and writer on cuisine and inspired a generation of food and restaurant writers, including the late Julia Childs.

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