State takes control of financially troubled Amistad America


NEW HAVEN — Amistad America Inc., the financially distressed non-profit that owns and operates the Freedom Schooner Amistad, has been placed into receivership.

The 79-foot sailing ship Amistad, which is Connecticut’s official flagship, makes its home port at Long Wharf in New Haven. The vessel is a replica of its 19th-century namesake, made famous for the mutiny of its African captives en route to America to be sold into slavery. The event became the subject of a renowned legal battle in Connecticut in 1839-40 that became the subject of a 1997 Steven Spielberg film.

Launched in 2000, the schooner had served as a floating classroom in New Haven Harbor, Long Island Sound and beyond, and the non-profit that operates it has been the beneficiary of millions of dollars in state aid.

Under a court order sought by state Attorney General George Jepson, an independent receiver was appointed August 21 to take control of Amistad America’s precarious finances. The order strips Amistad America’s leadership of control over the non-profit and places it in the hands of New Haven attorney Katharine B. Sacks.

According to financial audits released last month, Amistad America’s net assets declined from more than $1 million in 2008 (the year the most recent audit of the group had been performed) to negative assets three years later. The state has since frozen all grants to the non-profit.

There remain substantial challenges ahead for the Amistad – not least of which are designing an appropriate governing structure for the organization and identifying consistent and adequate sources for its operational funding,” said Jepson in a statement. “Success is not guaranteed, but today’s action is a necessary first step and one that can give the state the confidence needed to continue expending funds allocated for the ship’s operations.”

 National group cites hospital’s benefits, flexibility 



NEW HAVEN — Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) has been named to the 2014 “NAFE Ten Nonprofits for Executive Women” list by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE).

One of the country’s largest associations for women professionals and business owners, NAFE provides resources – through education, networking and public advocacy – to empower its members to achieve both career and personal success. The list recognizes organizations whose policies and practices encourage women’s advancement and whose numbers at the highest levels of leadership demonstrate that commitment.

“Yale-New Haven Hospital is and always has been committed to workplace equality.  It is just one of the ways Yale-New Haven distinguishes itself as an employer of choice,” said Marna P. Borgstrom, the hospital’s chief executive officer. “We’re honored to be recognized by NAFE for something that we regard as integral to who we are and what we do.”

YNHH notes that it has been recognized as an employer of choice nationwide, offering many benefits and programs to help not only female employees, but all employees meet work-life demands, such as internal advancement, tuition reimbursement, dependent tuition, employee health and wellness programs, and a unique performance incentive plan which allows employees to share in the hospital’s financial success.

Hospital management has found that offering flexible work arrangements — such as telecommuting, part-time and casual status, compressed workweeks, job sharing and an on-site day care for hospital employees — are particularly appealing to older workers and also attractive to new applicants and women interested in returning to the workforce following childbirth.

NAFE will honor each of the top companies at a gala luncheon in New York City on April 3.

 Bequest will help fund new residential colleges

NEW HAVEN — Billionaire investor Charles B. Johnson, a 1954 graduate of Yale College, will give $250 million to his alma mater to support the creation of two new residential colleges. Johnson’s gift represents the largest in Yale’s 312-year history.

Johnson, who retired last year as chairman of the board of Franklin Resources, has previously contributed to the Papers of Benjamin Franklin and the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy, and he made a gift to establish the Johnson Center for the Study of American Diplomacy, which holds the papers of Henry Kissinger. He has also supported renovations of the Yale Bowl and the creation of Yale’s first all-season outdoor athletics field.

Yale's residential college system, which dates back more than 70 years, is the most distinctive feature of Yale College. The 12 existing residential colleges are architecturally distinct, but each offers students a familiar, comfortable living environment, personal interaction with faculty members and administrators, and opportunities for academic and extracurricular exploration. Students remain affiliated with their residential college for their undergraduate years and beyond.

Yale last built new residential colleges — Morse and Ezra Stiles — in 1961. The construction of two additional residential colleges will permit Yale to accept a larger percentage of undergraduate applicants. Currently, Yale admits only a tiny fraction of applicants; the 1,360 members of the Class of 2017 were chosen from a record applicant pool of 29,610 (about 4.6 percent). The two new colleges will allow Yale to admit about 15 percent more students each year, bringing total undergraduate enrollment to more than 6,000.

Designed by Robert A. M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, the new colleges will incorporate spaces and traditions that are historically associated with existing colleges. Their construction will be funded entirely through donor support, with construction commencing when all funding is secured.

“This is an extraordinary commitment from one of Yale’s most loyal alumni,” said Yale President Peter Salovey. “It builds on Charlie’s long history of generosity to Yale. Charlie has already done so much to shape our international and athletics programs. This latest gift, in support of the expansion of Yale College, is truly magnificent, and I am deeply grateful. I am thrilled that this gift brings us to within $80 million of the funds needed to break ground on two new residential colleges.”

“Yale is unsurpassed in the quality of its undergraduate education, and I strongly support Rick Levin's and Peter Salovey’s shared goal to make that extraordinary experience available to more students than ever before,” Johnson said. “I hope my commitment will inspire other alumni, parents and friends to complete the funding for the construction of these colleges.”

Johnson was CEO and chairman of Franklin Resources, the parent company of Franklin Templeton Investments, and has been at the company since 1957. Johnson is also part owner of the San Francisco Giants major league baseball team. He has served on the board of overseers of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.