Montpelier Board Repeats Offer to Review Nominees from Montpelier Descendants Committee

‘Still Waiting’ for List of Names to Achieve Parity. Can James Madison’s Montpelier Survive Attacks by MDC?

Press Release Date: Wednesday, April 27, 2022

How did the Montpelier Board of Directors go from a shining light to a villain in eight months? 

The answer is that during that short interval, it became clear that the Montpelier Descendants Committee (MDC) leadership could not be relied upon to work as a partner and keep its commitments. 

Now, here we are, less than one week away from May 1, the date by which we need the names of individuals from the MDC for consideration at the next Board meeting for membership on the Montpelier Foundation Board, and the Board’s Governance and Nomination Committee is still waiting to receive any names. 

The Montpelier Foundation has yet to hear any formal response from the MDC, only newspaper reports and negotiating positions put forward by their surrogates, to our offer to complete the process of descendant parity. 

Since the agreement last June, the MDC has broken promises and not kept commitments, in spite of parity being within reach. 

The question remains: 

Is the MDC a political organization with a political agenda or an organization committed to representing descendants at Montpelier? 

The Montpelier Foundation hopes that we will be provided a list of nominees and not a list of excuses and further demands. 

We said one week ago that we want to consider recommendations from among 15 names to be submitted by the MDC. From those names, the Board’s Governance Committee would advance nine names for a vote up or down by the full Board on May 16. The new members will be seated on the Board in two waves, with both waves fully empowered by the fall Board meeting. 

Our goal is 25 members, 12 of whom are descendants (or representatives on behalf of descendants) put forward by the MDC, 12 of whom are Board-appointed, and one from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

The Montpelier Foundation has stewarded the investment of over $150 million in contributions, grants, and long-term debt issuance in the operations and capital assets of the Foundation over the past 21 years. We survived the worst of the pandemic, and we were positioned for success. 

Now, however, Montpelier is facing an unprecedented loss of prestige and credibility as the result of inflammatory and contrived accusations based on inaccurate information and false scenarios. The consequences, while not yet clear, will be felt for many years. 

Further, our relationship with the National Trust had been cooperative and mutually beneficial before the emergence of the MDC. But in recent months, we have been disappointed that in our dealings with the MDC, the Trust has been very quick to publicly offer judgments. 

The MDC and its lawyer think that if they continue to release demeaning statements about the Foundation’s leadership, then we will somehow collapse, ignore the rules for bringing on new members, and abandon our fiduciary duties as Board members. 

That is not going to happen. 

The goal of descendant parity is noble and overdue. We hope it survives the victory-at-any-cost approach of the MDC’s current leadership and their attorney.