Connecticut and hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio’s philanthropic arm dissolved their education partnership Friday over the passionate objection of their embattled chief executive.
Partnership for Connecticut CEO Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey, whose friction with the Dalios contributed to the breakdown, pleaded with state and philanthropic leaders not to abandon the program designed to assist some of the state’s neediest students.
The board’s 12-1 vote closed the book on a venture marked from its launch one year ago by its controversial exemption from state disclosure and ethics rules.
“I’m just astounded that this would happen,” Schmitt-Carey, who cast the lone vote against dissolution, said during a video-conference meeting that lasted about 15 minutes. “I poured my heart and soul into this work. I was so proud. … The needs are tremendous and they’ve become much more complicated given the conditions that we’re living in.”
Schmitt-Carey, who was hired in March, also chastised the 13-member partnership board — which includes Gov. Ned Lamont, four legislative leaders, and Dalio’s wife, Barbara — for not asking her about the May 4 phone call during which Mrs. Dalio asked her to resign.
“I’m shocked that no one wants to take a minute to understand the injustice that’s happened to me, the attacks,” Schmitt-Carey said. “Everybody’s just packing up the tents and trying to do it as fast as possible? There’s no discussion?”
Board Chairman Erik Clemons, who earlier insisted that members discuss dissolution “and nothing else,” responded to Schmitt-Carey that “these resolutions to dissolve the partnership have nothing to do with you, nothing to do with a personnel matter.”
At the same meeting, though, the partnership board voted to indemnify all of its members against any legal liability.
And when Lamont announced on May 19 that the Dalios wanted to end the partnership, he said published details about a confidential personnel matter contributed to that decision.
In a May 12 email sent to partnership board members, Schmitt-Carey accused Barbara Dalio and one of her aides, Andrew Ferguson, of ambushing her during a May 4 phone call with “false and defamatory allegations.”
The CEO also charged Barbara Dalio and Ferguson urged her to resign after just six weeks on the job. Lamont and legislative leaders wouldn’t even learn of this confrontation for several more days.
A former CEO of Say Yes to Education, another nonprofit focused on improving inner city education, Schmitt-Carey, who lives in Greenwich has been on paid administrative leave since May 7.
Her contract includes a “non-disparagement” clause that stipulates she “will not at any time make, publish, or communicate to any person or entity or in any public forum any defamatory or disparaging remarks, comments, or statements concerning the Partnership, or any of its employees, officers, and associated third parties.”
The contract also allows for up to six months’ severance pay — half of her $247,500 annual salary — if Schmitt-Carey is terminated.
Neither Lamont, Barbara Dalio, the four legislative leaders on the board, nor other appointees of the state or the Dalios, commented on the Schmitt-Carey matter.