Obama official, Hillary donors, improv actor: Meet SVB’s board of directors
March 14, 2023
One is a Hillary Clinton mega-donor who went to a Shinto shrine to pray after Donald Trump won the White House. Another worked for President Barack Obama before her own political career spectacularly failed. A third is a prolific contributor to Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi — who owns a Napa Valley vineyard just 15 minutes from the former House speaker’s.
There’s even an improv performer.
The 12 directors who were supposed to oversee fallen Silicon Valley Bank — and prevent the catastrophic errors that threw the entire banking system into jeopardy on Friday — might not be household names.
But they are facing a series of investigations into their collective role in its collapse.
A Post examination of the board reveals it did not jibe with Silicon Valley’s young image: Only one independent director is under 60, while the oldest is 78.
SVB touted its diversity, though, noting in its 2022 proxy statement that 45% of its board are women, in addition to “other diversity” like “one black” member, “one LGQBT+” and “two veterans.”
SVB Financial Group, the bank’s parent company, appointed Tom King, former CEO of investment banking at Barclays, to its board in September as it touted $214 billion in assets and more than 7,700 employees worldwide. The group is now composed of seven men and five women, or 41% female.
The group’s lack of banking expertise is likely to be a focus for investigators. Just one current member has had a career at the top of the investment banking world.
What is clearis that the bank, and much of the board, burnished their Democratic credentials as part of their strategy.
They donated to Obama, Clinton and President Biden, and to local Democratic congressional reps including Pelosi — as well as political action committees for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a longtime member of the powerful Senate Banking Committee.
Here’s a who’s who of the failed SVB board:
‘I prayed at a Shinto shrine after Hillary lost’
Director Kate Mitchell, 64, is a Hillary Clinton mega-donor who was so upset by Donald Trump’s 2016 victory that she went to a shrine in Kyoto that Thanksgiving.
“I prayed for me and us to get beyond our grieving and shock and to figure out how to engage and listen to what happened and come back together,” Mitchell told CNBC.
The prayers came after she had donated $50,000 to the Hillary victory fund.
Prior to the election, Mitchell celebrated how 97% of technology company employees’ donations were going to Clinton.
“Ninety-seven percent support of Clinton is mind-blowing and really suggests that we’re pounding the table,”Mitchell told NBC News. “We think her business policies are going to be friendlier.”
And despite the largest failure of corporate governance at a bank since the 2008 financial crisis, Mitchell advises the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford Law School.
Learned how to be a boss from doing improv
Board member Elizabeth “Busy” Burr splits executive success — she’s now the interim CEO of RiteAid after Heyward Donigan exited in January — with a rare hobby: improvisational theater.
The 61-year-old credits being in an improv troupe for taking her to the top.
“I’ve learned a lot from doing improv and it’s influenced how I think about leadership,” she told Authority Magazine in February 2021 before joining SVB’s board months later in November.
Learned how to be a boss from doing improv
Winemaker who toasts neighbor Nancy Pelosi
Garen K. Staglin, who was elected to SVB’s board in 2012, is another serial Democratic donor.
Obama official caught in race row
The most politically connected independent director is Mary J. Miller.
The only real banker on board
Tom King, 63, SVB’s newest director, is the only board member with a career at the pinnacle of the banking world.
He spent 35 years in investment banking, much of it at Citigroup before joining Barclays in 2013.
anons, anybody else smell some Barclay money and influence at Signature Bank? Barclay is rich beyond measure and can't cough up the dough to get the exwife and her $100 million claim off his back? Barclay has money all over the world, much of it with fake restrictions and those need the titles/deeds unclouded, a spendy proposition but worthwhile in this case.
Sir Frekerick Hugh Barclay, picrel
Sir David Barclay currently pushing up daisies
on Guernsey-Brecqhou in the Channel Islands