City

Mayor’s Fund to Undergo Major Restructuring

The nonprofit with strong ties to the city has faced scrutiny amid accusations of misused funds.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The Mayor’s Fund of Philadelphia is getting a major overhaul.

Philly.com reports that the fund’s executive director, board of directors and chairwoman are all being replaced as part of an effort to revamp the organization, a city-established nonprofit that leverages public-private partnerships in an effort to better Philadelphia. 

The fund has faced scrutiny amidst accusations that its chairwoman, Desiree Peterkin Bell, had misused its funds. In March, Philly.com revealed that Peterkin Bell spent $52,000 worth of fund money with no documentation in 2015.

Last year, City Controller Alan Butkovitz said Peterkin Bell used the nonprofit like “a slush fund.” (Peterkin Bell sued Butkovitz shortly after.) A report by Butkovitz – also released in March – found that during a five-month period in 2015, the fund had failed to document about $134,000 in credit card expenses and had approved $32,000 in grants without permission from its board.

Butkovitz suggested a major overhaul of the nonprofit in wake of the report. As part of the restructuring, the fund will remove all credit cards associated with its accounts, and Mayor Jim Kenney will appoint nine board members. Four members will be city employees, and five members will not work for the city.

The fund will also conduct a national search for a new executive director. That person will work only for the nonprofit – not the city.

Butkovitz has called on former Mayor Michael Nutter, Peterkin Bell and others involved in the fund to reimburse the city for $240,000 worth of fund money that he said went toward “questionable expenses,” like $22,000 spent on a farewell party for Nutter, $45,000 in travel expenses and almost $9,000 in Uber charges.

The fund’s current executive director, Ashley Del Bianco, told Philly.com that the fund “was still reviewing” that recommendation.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.