A Message to the Bronfman Community from the Board of Directors, March 15, 2022
In November 2021, we announced that we had engaged a third party, independent investigator to conduct a thorough and holistic review of concerns raised by a blog post that described a 2017 Fellow’s experience in the program. This important process was done with great intention, considering the seriousness of the concerns. Our goal was to assure we had all of the facts to determine whether the situation was handled appropriately and, if necessary, to identify any additional steps we should take.
The investigator, Kate Legge, has many years of relevant experience conducting confidential, highly sensitive, independent investigations on a range of matters including workplace violations, sexual harassment, bullying, Title IX and more. Her comprehensive process included: interviews with key individuals, including Bronfman Fellows, staff, professionals, faculty and Board representatives; an in-depth examination of documentation dating back to the time of the events described in the blog post; and a comprehensive review of Bronfman policies and procedures in place both at the time of the events and now, as some have been updated. The investigation is complete, and I am writing today to share topline findings, which you will find in the executive summary that Ms. Legge compiled.
The investigation concluded that there was no legal wrongdoing committed by any member of the Bronfman community. Because the blog post alleged “abuse” beyond potential legal misconduct, the investigation’s purview was construed broadly to assess those claims as well. The investigation further concluded unequivocally that no abuse — physical or emotional — took place. It also found that Bronfman’s culture creates a suitable and appropriate environment for young people.
We recognize that the very act of raising concerns is a difficult one. Since 2017, and in response to the events of that Fellowship year, Bronfman leadership had instituted additional training for Bronfman faculty and made policy changes for the program to improve the structure for Fellows, enhance their experience during and after the program, and improve the emotional support for Fellows. We are committed to continued introspection and our culture of learning.
We are grateful to those who participated thoughtfully throughout this process; as always, we welcome and encourage honest feedback from anyone in the Fellowship family about any concerns. The Board would also like to thank every member of this community for your deep care and sensitivity.
As a Jewish, values-driven organization, especially one that works with young people, we are constantly asking ourselves how to best meet the needs of the community we serve. Our hope is that this process will enable Bronfman to continue building on its 35+ year track record of nurturing young generations to change the world around them for the better.
Over the last 14 years and throughout this process, Becky Voorwinde has led the Fellowship with integrity, compassion, thoughtfulness and professionalism. She cares deeply about the program and about the experience of our Fellows, and we look forward to her continued leadership.
Dana Raucher, President, on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Bronfman Fellowship