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CEO of Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies has resigned

Peter Fleischmann, who has been on paid leave as chief executive officer of the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies since late June, has resigned.

Fleischmann had remained as CEO, a post he's held since 1982, while an outside firm reviews the policies of the Amherst-based foundation that supports Jewish charities and manages nearly $200 million in assets.

Foundation officials have declined to discuss what prompted the audit – which they said was not a "financial audit" – but said they don't suspect any criminal activity took place.

Fleischmann's resignation is effective last Friday, according to a statement provided to The Buffalo News by Raymond L. Fink, president of the foundation's board.

"I can say that I fully support the actions taken by the board in their investigation," Fleischmann said in a brief interview Thursday. "They have handled a sensitive matter in a most professional and fair manner. I thought it was in the best interests of the foundation to submit my resignation, which I did last week and it was accepted."

Fink and Lynn Catalano, director of development for the foundation, are managing the agency in the interim. Fink said he couldn't comment on whether Fleischmann received severance upon his departure.

The foundation is beginning the process to find a new CEO by forming a search committee, Fink said, and the outside investigation continues. The auditors are looking at processes related to the handling of donations to the foundation, Fink previously told The News.

Fleischmann said he is cooperating with the investigation and is willing to assist in the transition to new leadership. But he declined to comment on whether he has met with the outside auditors conducting the probe.

The foundation manages $191 million in assets, according to its most recent filing with the Internal Revenue Service. Much comes from the 1,000 or so families and institutions that have entrusted endowment funds and other assets to the foundation's care. They include the Weinberg Campus, Temple Beth Tzedek and prominent area philanthropists and business leaders.

"The donors or comparable responsible persons for the accounts under audit have been duly notified," Fink said in the statement. "It is important to emphasize that all of the foundation’s assets and donor accounts are fully accounted for and no funds are missing."

The Buffalo Jewish Federation is a client and partner of the foundation, and both have offices at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Buffalo in Amherst. The federation issued a statement Thursday saying it supports the decision to accept Fleischmann's resignation.

"We have been assured that the foundation will work with its auditors to implement any new policies and procedures necessary to enhance the oversight and custodial management of the foundation's assets," the federation wrote, "including funds managed by the foundation for the federation, its constituent agencies, synagogue partners and donors."

CEO on leave from major foundation as board seeks audit

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