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Newman's Own President Ousted, But Connecticut Nonprofits Hope To Preserve Relationship

Jessica Hill
Associated Press
Robert H. Forrester, then President and CEO of Newman's Own Foundation seen here at an induction ceremony for his friend, the late actor and humanitarian Paul Newman into the Connecticut Hall of Fame in Hartford, Conn. in 2009.

The head of Newman's Own Foundation has been ousted from his position after allegations of misconduct from employees, though the nature of the misconduct has not been officially released.

Bob Forrester was Paul Newman's right-hand man, and he took over the Westport-based foundation when Newman died in 2008. 

But following an investigation into allegations of misconduct, Forrester has been removed from his role as president.

In a statement, the foundation said it "took action after an independent investigation into allegations brought forward by employees regarding their experiences working at the Foundation."

The statement added that Newman's Own Foundation “does not tolerate unacceptable behavior.”

A spokesperson declined to comment further on the nature of the allegations against Forrester.

Following Forrester's dismissal, Jennifer Smith Turner, the foundation’s executive vice president, has taken over as president on an interim basis.

Newman's Own is a significant part of the nonprofit ecosystem. In 2017, it donated to nonprofits in 35 states, including dozens in Connecticut. Their grants range from a few thousand dollars to, in one case, $4 million.

That year, Connecticut Public received $367,000 through the foundation, according to its form 990 filing with the IRS. Mark Contreras, president and CEO of Connecticut Public, said he doesn’t expect the relationship with Newman’s Own to sour.

“We’ve had a longstanding relationship with Newman’s Own Foundation, and I look forward to working with Jennifer Smith Turner, given that both of our institutions have similar missions,” Contreras said.

Contreras recently started work at Connecticut Public, and said he has not yet met with anyone from Newman’s Own Foundation. 

Gian-Carl Casa, president of the Connecticut Nonprofit Alliance, said he doesn't expect the allegations to impact the foundation's relationships with other nonprofits.

"You know, I don't think that most people look at isolated cases and take it out on community organizations that they know and trust,” Casa said, adding that there’s been a recent decline in giving to nonprofits, and he hopes this incident doesn’t add to the problem.

Forrester couldn't be reached for comment.

David finds and tells stories about education and learning for WNPR radio and its website. He also teaches journalism and media literacy to high school students, and he starts the year with the lesson: “Conflicts of interest: Real or perceived? Both matter.” He thinks he has a sense of humor, and he also finds writing in the third person awkward, but he does it anyway.
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