New Website Encourages Foundation to Restore Support for Bay Area
Community and Jewish Causes
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Susan Koret has released a new website at SaveKoret.org
seeking the support of Bay Area organizations and individuals interested
in joining the fight to reclaim the Koret Foundation and restore it to
the Jewish, humanitarian and community-oriented mission intended by her
late husband and the founder of the Foundation, Joseph Koret.
In October 2014, Mrs. Koret filed a lawsuit against the Koret
Foundation’s current Board of Directors for ignoring the wishes of her
late husband to help the poor and disadvantaged in the Bay Area and
supporting Jewish causes in the Bay Area and Israel. The suit alleges,
among other things, that the Foundation’s directors have diverted
millions in Foundation dollars to grantees outside of the Bay Area and
Israel and other grantees directly associated with their own personal
interests – including causes in former President Tad Taube’s native
country of Poland.
Mrs. Koret is seeking to restore a more egalitarian foundation
structure, whereby organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and
Israel can seek funding consistent with her husband’s intent.
Many organizations stand to gain from this reform and the new website, SaveKoret.org,
encourages those interested in joining this effort to sign up in support.
“Mrs. Koret claims in her lawsuit that the current directors are
shortchanging the people of the Bay Area and Israel who most need the
help that her husband intended his legacy to provide, and that community
support will be positive for a restored mission,” said Rob Bunzel, an
attorney for Mrs. Koret.
Mrs. Koret’s lawsuit demands the removal of board members Tad Taube and
his longtime legal counsel Richard L. Greene of Greene Radovsky Maloney
Share & Hennigh LLP; co-president Anita Friedman, director of Jewish
Family and Children’s Services; co-president Michael J. Boskin, Senior
Fellow at the Hoover Institution; board member Richard Atkinson, former
president of the University of California; and board member Abraham D.
Sofaer, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. The suit calls for
their replacement with the appointment of an independent board with a
majority of Jewish directors.
The suit claims the Koret board is using foundation funds to promote
programs closely affiliated with individual board members and is
purposely confusing the public by putting signage that prominently
features Taube’s name alongside the Koret Foundation name on buildings
and grants for which the Koret Foundation is the principal funder.
The lawsuit also claims that, at Taube’s direction, the Koret Foundation
has donated approximately $9 million to the Museum of the History of
Polish Jews in Warsaw, a pet project of Taube, who was born in Poland.
“While the Polish Museum commemorates significant Jewish history, the
diversion of Koret funds to Poland is not in keeping with my husband’s
charitable mission…and in effect drains funds that could benefit the
needy in communities in the Bay Area and Israel,” the lawsuit states.
“Alleviating suffering and misfortune were my husband’s top priorities,”
said Mrs. Koret when the lawsuit was filed. “Joe and Stephanie’s money
shouldn’t be used for Tad Taube’s pet projects in Poland or to help
conservative economic and policy think tanks–not when so many in the
Bay Area go to bed hungry every night and Jewish causes need support.”
Mrs. Koret noted her husband was a native of Odessa, Russia, who
immigrated to America, struggled growing up poor in the U.S., and then
struck it rich later in life in clothing and real estate. He was deeply
committed to humanitarian causes such as alleviating hunger, and would
“be deeply angered and offended by Tad Taube and the board’s strong
support of conservative causes and grants that divert money needed for
the local community and Jewish causes.”
The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the spending down of the
Foundation’s assets by Taube and the board members with whom he has
surrounded himself and allow the appointment of a new, independent board
to carry out its mission and save the Foundation.
Mrs. Koret was named a lifetime director and chairwoman of the
Foundation prior to her husband’s death in 1982. She was entrusted by
her late husband to carry out the family legacy of caring for the poor
and supporting Jewish and community causes through the Koret Foundation,
according to the lawsuit.
Mrs. Koret said she has been marginalized as Taube, a Silicon Valley
real estate investor, and his hand-picked supporters on the board steer
donations toward causes in which they have affiliations.
Mrs. Koret said she filed the suit as a last resort after her efforts to
diversify the board, get independent legal advice, confirm the perpetual
nature of the Foundation and redirect funds back to her late husband’s
mission were rebuffed. She fears the Koret Foundation is facing
destruction of its mission and eventual collapse unless changes are made.
The lawsuit alleges that Taube is a shameless self-promoter who has
personally selected board members to rubber stamp his decisions in
exchange for support of their own pet projects. Additionally, the suit
says Taube established his own foundation, called Taube Philanthropies,
but uses money and staff from the Koret Foundation to pay for and
enhance joint projects of Taube Philanthropies and the Koret
Foundation. A review of the Koret Foundation’s public filings shows
reported annual salaries and compensation of officers exceeded
$1.9 million in 2011, while Taube Philanthropies showed no such expenses
for the same period, according to the lawsuit.
Mrs. Koret’s lawsuit charges that out of the $79 million gifted by the
Koret Foundation between 2010 and 2013, nearly 60 percent was spent on
causes outside the stated mission of her husband, the late Joseph Koret.
Learn more about the lawsuit and recent developments by visiting SaveKoret.org.