Sonora, CA — Former Sonora Area Foundation Executive Director Mark Bergstrom filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Foundation and the Symons Family Fund.
Bergstrom claims that he was wrongfully terminated a year ago today, after being hired to lead the Foundation the previous March. Papers obtained from Tuolumne County Superior Court state that Bergstrom feels he was unlawfully relieved of his duties after voicing concerns about alleged “self dealing” and “conflict of interest” matters among Board members of the Irving J. Symons Foundation. Four Board members resigned during Bergstrom’s tenure.
Speaking by telephone this morning, Bergstrom chose not to comment on lawsuit.
New Sonora Area Foundation Executive Director Greg Applegate says the Foundation has not officially been served notice of the lawsuit, so the Foundation also has no comment at this time. The Foundation previously stated, “Mr. Bergstrom lost the confidence and trust of the Directors in his ability to lead the Foundation,” in a statement released this past summer.
The court papers state that Bergstrom is seeking monetary relief from SAF and is requesting a jury trial. Bergstrom claims that he was offered a $100,000 severance package with a non-disclosure agreement prior to be being terminated, but turned it down.
Bergstrom’s lawsuit states that he has since been passed over for consulting/development positions with two Tuolumne County organizations, indicating that one was related to concerns that his hiring could potentially hinder the group’s ability to receive future grants from the Sonora Area Foundation. The other group reportedly had concerns about him being the face of their organization after his falling out with SAF.
The court papers show that a Case Management Conference Hearing has been scheduled for April 21st, at 2pm, in Department Two of Tuolumne County Superior Court.
The Sonora Area Foundation is Tuolumne County’s largest philanthropic organization.