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Brett Moore

James Beard Searches For New President

By February 2, 2006

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The James Beard Foundation, America's best known culinary organization, announced recently its search for a new permanent president. The search panel will be led by interim president Edna Morris and new James Beard Foundation Trustees Mitchell Rosenthal (CEO of Phoenix House) and Jennifer Howse (President of the March of Dimes).

It was one year ago that the James Beard Foundation suffered through a crippling financial scandal. The foundation had not paid taxes for two years and other accounting irregularities were evident. Hundreds of thousands of dollars could not be accounted for. Long-term president, Leonard F. Pickell Jr. (a certified public accountant), was fired over the incident. He was later sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison for second-degree grand larceny. The entire board later resigned. The scandal threatened to dissolve the James Beard Foundation, its work to promote American cuisine, and most notably, the James Beard Awards, the most prestigious culinary awards in this country.

With Edna Morris' leadership, the Foundation has established new controls including a new ethics policy, tighter financial discipline, and separating the James Beard Awards from the rest of the organization. Hopefully with a strong fiscal foundation and the choosing of a president with integrity and vision, the James Beard Foundation can regain its credibility and continue its good work.

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