Humboldt Area Foundation pays hush money to former Director of Donor Services to cover their tracks

Humboldt Area Foundation recently fired their long-time Director of Donor Services, Chris Witt, and it wasn’t because of incompetence. It was because Witt refused to obey a directive from HAF’s higher-ups which would have required her to coerce donors into gifting them money with no strings attached.

Humboldt Area Foundation is an insular organization, and they do all they can to keep the public – who generously support HAF’s shady activities – from knowing the truth about how they run their affairs, particularly when it comes to how they’re using their money.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to give your money to HAF in the last few years, you may have been struck by something odd. HAF’s representatives have a curious habit of steering potential donors to contribute money towards HAF’s general fun rather than to specific causes. Why?

HAF has discretion over how to use money in their general fund, so every dollar that goes towards a specific cause – say, scholarships or youth activities – is one less dollar that goes into HAF’s Unrestricted Funds, which are used for “Humboldt Area Foundation community programs and unrestricted grant-making that meets changing community needs”.

Now, there’s a pretty clear trend of activities from HAF that just aren’t in keeping with their mission statement (which is curiously missing from their website), and that certainly don’t mirror the priorities of the greater Humboldt community. Here are some examples:

THC first got tipped off to Chris Witt’s firing, and the reasons behind it, by a fellow HAF employee who was disgusted at Witt’s treatment. This employee cited both Witt’s refusal to pressure donors to give HAF unrestricted money along with her more conservative political values as a couple of reasons why Witt was dismissed.

THC, like the half-ass sleuths we are, reached out to Witt a few times for her take on the situation – and she was even willing to speak to us! That is, until HAF negotiated a non-disclosure agreement with Witt after her dismissal. According to Witt’s former co-worker, she received quite the severance package for her silence.

If nothing else, THC is pleased we could aid Witt in getting paid for her unfair dismissal from HAF, and wish her happier trails where jerks like Pat Cleary aren’t pressuring her to swindle well-meaning folks out of their money.


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11 Responses to Humboldt Area Foundation pays hush money to former Director of Donor Services to cover their tracks

  1. Former HAF Donor says:

    Wow! This should blow the doors off the Cleary political machine at HAF.


  2. Anonymous says:

    This is completely out of control. Even their own employees are going public with with internal ethical issues. Is anyone even in charge at all?


  3. Mac Towner says:

    The rats are starting to scurry!


  4. Azalea Mom says:

    I am really dissapointed in Humboldt Area Foundation and their leadership. How could they allow this to happen. Our Supervisors should start a Grand Jury investigation after all it’s the public’s money that’s being mishandled.


    • Beagle says:

      Regrettably because HAF isn’t a public agency the Grand Jury can’t investigate them even though they accept public donations. However the District Attorney CAN begin a criminal investigation and the IRS can also investigate them for violating their non profit status. They are legally required to follow their mission statement and apparently the THC crowd thinks they haven’t been. I haven’t seen their mission statement but it is certainly troubling that they took it off their website. Most non profits are proud of their mission and want to show it off not the other way around. Another approach would be of a donor, even one who only gave a dollar to file a suit for fraud or misrepresentation. Then a class action could be formed. This might be the best approach especially if donors are being coerced into making gifts that benefit HAF over the groups or individuals that the donor actually wanted to benefit. Their are literally thousands of pages of laws designed specifically to keep what they supposedly did from happening. If any of this is true then HAF staff should be concerned about their own personal criminal liability.


      • Azalea Mom says:

        I just think there should be some sort of accountability. Our local scholarship and philanthropic organization shouldn’t be in politics or taking sides in anything. that’s not why I made donations over the years. I know that’s not how or why HAF got started.


      • sandserat says:

        On the HAF website.


        Humboldt Area Foundation promotes and encourages generosity, leadership, and inclusion to strengthen our communities.


  5. Arcatan says:

    It’s not just our local extremists who are to blame for the corruption of HAF. Our elected officials have contributed mightily too. For example after spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars creating the “Humboldt Made” brand our Supervisors led by Virginia Bass GAVE the business, brand, and future income to none other than Pat Cleary and Humboldt Area Foundation. With community leaders like ours it’s no wonder Humboldt is bankrupt and our Supervisors support every single tax increase they can..


  6. Rusty says:

    Rusty says:

    February 8, 2017 at 7:21 AM

    They’re libprogs running a non profit organization raising money to push a political agenda and fund there administrative salaries. Figured that out when I got my first HAF year end review 20 odd years ago. Are they liberal, progressive or conservatives? ……….No, they are Crooks.

    Still true.


  7. Mee Too says:

    It’s pretty bad when multiple employees are leaking dirt to the blogs. Humboldt Foundation is seriously f’d up.


  8. Eurekan says:

    You are mistaken: Chris Witt received no payoff or hush money . There needs to be an audit of the “discretionary funds” so that future discretionary accounts are not spent on special classes for HAF staff: i.e., meditation classes. Yes, this really happened.


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