Former head of Enrichmond's new boss: He's on a leave of absence

Enrichmond long-time Executive Director John Syndor
Posted at 6:02 PM, May 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-10 18:07:44-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The former Executive Director of the Enrichmond Foundation, John Sydnor, who was at the helm when nearly $500,000 in partner funds went missing, is now on a leave of absence from his current fundraising job at LISC Virginia.

Eighty-six nonprofit partner groups like Friends of the Pump House — that banked their money with the umbrella nonprofit and allowed them to be tax exempt and fundraise as a nonprofit — lost nearly half-a-million dollars when Enrichmond collapsed.

The FBI and Attorney General's Office are now investigatingwhat happened to the missing funds.

CBS 6 was able to access many of the documents they are reviewing through a public records request, and in recent weeks has exposed financial issues at Enrichmond, including the organization's use of partner funds to pay off debts.


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Melissa Hipolit
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As the Enrichmond Foundation unraveled in early 2022, a board member raised concerns about Sydnor's "lack of transparency" and "ethics" in an email to board colleagues.

Sydnor had just resigned the previous month to take another job at LISC Virginia because he said it offered more "remote work" opportunities.

That was after a January audit found the nonprofit was in dire financial straits.

But in his resignation email to the board, Sydnor made no mention of the financial problems plaguing the nonprofit.

In fact, his bio on the LISC Virginia website said " For the last eleven years, John served as the Executive Director of the Enrichmond Foundation which he grew from a one-person operation to the vibrant, multi-jurisdictional organization that serves as a steward for public spaces through conservation and programming."

It didn't mention that Enrichmond is no longer functional.


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Enrichmond board member questions former director's 'ethics' and 'transparency'

Melissa Hipolit
7:03 PM, May 03, 2023

CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit reached out to LISC Virginia Executive Director Jane Ferrara on April 27 to let her know about what she had discovered in the Enrichmond Foundation documents, but Ferrara never responded.

However, on May 10, after another media outlet contacted Ferrara and they received a response, Hipolit reached back out to Ferrara who sent her the following statement where she said Sydnor is on a leave of absence:

"Thank you for your inquiry. The allegations being made about John Sydnor and Enrichmond concern a timeframe that predates Mr. Sydnor's time with LISC. LISC had no affiliation with Enrichmond, but as a member of the Richmond community and an organization that understands and appreciates the trust that goes along with making a charitable donation, we agree that there should be a full and complete investigation whenever there are claims of this nature. In light of the current allegations and to allow John time to address these claims, he is currently on a leave of absence from LISC.

These difficult circumstances do not affect LISC's ongoing work or objectives, like financing affordable housing and economic development projects, supporting small business growth and collaborating with local partners to advance racial equity efforts. All of those efforts continue on pace.

Thanks again but we will not have any further comment."

Sydnor is no longer on the LISC Virginia website.

He has not responded to WTVR's multiple requests for comments.

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