CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Monday May 25, 2015
Charles Darwin Foundation Fires Executive Director - no reason given yet
Swen Lorenz, former London financier, and dynamic, "out of the box" thinking executive director of the Charles Darwin (CDF) Foundation since 2011 was fired last Friday by the board of directors, as reported in his Facebook page today. At the writing of this news item, the CDF website is mum about the issue.
In his open letter to the Board, responding to the firing, Swen calls it a "haphazard and abrupt decision" that "was not coordinated with the CDF's strategic donors, is placing significant stress on staff and threatens current funding plans". He states that "back in 2011, I was brought on board to radically change the model of CDF, as it was evidently broken. In 2015, I get fired because I was doing just that."
Swen reports that the CDF remains in a very delicate financial situation, and may experience liquidity problems as early as next month. He indicated that the innovative financing mechanisms he was in the midst of launching were the best way to keep the organization afloat in the coming months.
He goes on to "place all responsibility for the financial and political survival of the CDF with its board", adding that "the timing and execution of their decisions lacks planning and puts the entire organization at risk".
CNH Tours is extremely concerned over these developments - the CDF, with the Galapagos National Park Service, have been the foundations over which conservation in Galapagos was built since the 1960s. Losing the CDF would seriously undermine the scientitic backstopping against which the National Park service depends for developing and executing effective conservation programmes.
The 22nd of May letter of the CDF board of directors to its members, announcing its decision, was shared with CNH Tours today. They simply state that Swen's firing was "part of our effort to develop a stable future for the CDF". They also announce that a new CDF executive director had been appointed - and is none other than Arturo Izurieta. Arturo himself was recently fired as the director of hte Galapagos National Park (see CNH Tours news items in April). Arturo, whom we know, enjoys a good reputation as a solid professional, and is trained as a scientist, having worked in conservation for many years - though it appears the biggest challenge facing the CDF now is not management or research, but fund-raising. It will also be interesting to see how the relations between the Park and the CDF will fare, given Arturo's own abrupt firing from that same institution. We certainly wish him success.
It seems that the bold experiment consisting of the hiring of an experienced and demonstrated financial expert / entrepreneur as the CDF executive director, the first time a non-scientist held the job since the CDF's creatin nearly 60 years ago, has come to an end. Swen was able to raise robust short term financing in the past year - but it appears his proposals for the future may have been too bold and too innovative for the comfort of the board.
We are eager to hear more details.