By Maggie Lee
The nonprofit Partners for Prosperity should be reworked to distinguish it more from the city’s development authority, according to the law firm that reviewed the nonprofit’s operations after an unusual $40,000 transaction involving City Hall.
Partners for Prosperity, described in a just-released summary of findings as Invest Atlanta’s nonprofit arm, received a $40,000 donation from the city of Atlanta in December, part of a raise that then-Mayor Kasim Reed chose to donate.
PFP then passed the money back to the city to help defray the costs of a nearly $90,000 economic development trip taken by Reed and members of his staff months before, which Reed had promised would be funded in part by a private donation. But the entire transaction with PFP occurred months later, and before the board approved any part of it.
The PFP check was signed by Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, who was described in the review as a Partners for Prosperity board member and in public records as its CFO.
She signed that check a few months after Reed signed her employment contract. The review by law firm McFadden Davis found no connection between the employment contract and the distribution of the $40,000.
After the deal was already done, the PFP board agreed that the $40,000 could be used to defray the costs of the trip by Reed and his team to South Africa, concluding it satisfied the nonprofit’s economic development purposes, according to the review.
Klementich’s actions in writing the check weren’t illegal, the review found, but it said she didn’t keep the board informed of or involved in decision-making and may have performed duties outside her role as a board member, among other things.
“The CEO of Invest Atlanta should not serve on the PFP board given the perceived leadership role that likely would overshadow the role of the PFP board chairperson,” is one of the recommendations in the report.
Indeed, Invest Atlanta and its leaders are prominent in Atlanta’s business and civic life. The agency is the city’s lead in attracting new businesses and incentivizing developments. PFP on the other hand, is an obscure nonprofit that told the IRS in 2016 (the latest record published online) that its receipts were less than $50,000.
The review also recommends that the PFP board be reconstituted, that it should get training on nonprofit governance standards and that it should hire an executive director to perform day-to-day operations. It also recommends that PFP and IA should sign a deal outlining exactly which back office services IA provides the nonprofit.
SR has asked Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ office and Invest Atlanta their thoughts on the recommendations and whether they intend to pursue any of them. This space will be updated with any comments.
In July, the review cost Klementich her contract, though not her employment. At the time, the city said there was no written report to release to the public, as McFadden Davis’ review was delivered to the IA board orally. However, the mayor’s office published the executive summary on Wednesday.