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Conflict of Interest Policy

Enacted by the Board 2-29-20

Leffler Foundation Conflict of Interest Policy

1. Purpose/General Rule

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance in identifying and handling potential and actual conflicts of interest involving the foundation. In most instances, conflicts of interest can be avoided simply by continuing to exercise good judgment and, indeed, the foundation relies on the sound judgment of its employees to prevent many such conflict situations.

The foundation is committed to the highest levels of integrity. Employees of the foundation are expected to conduct their relationships with each other, the foundation, and outside organizations with objectivity and honesty. The general rule is that: foundation employees are obligated to avoid and disclose ethical, legal, financial, or other conflicts of interest involving the foundation, and remove themselves from a position of decision-making authority with respect to any conflict situation involving the foundation.

The foundations initial directors and officers are all directors and or officers of another for profit LLC.  To ensure transparency the Leffler Foundation will not contract with or compensate Ultimate SEO LLC for any services that may be donated.  If at sometime in the future the majority of directors and the majority of officers are not involved with Ultimate SEO LLC that organization may become eligible for contract work after 3 years.

2. Identification and Management of Conflict Situations 2.1 Basic Definitions

Generally, a conflict of interest may occur if an interest or activity influences or appears to influence the ability of an individual to exercise objectivity or impairs the individual’s ability to perform his or her employment responsibilities in the best interests of the foundation.

An individual is considered to have a potential conflict of interest when:

  •  He or she or any member of his or her family* may receive a financial or other significant benefit as a result of the individual’s position at the foundation;
  •  The individual has the opportunity to influence the foundation’s granting, business, administrative, or other material decisions in a manner that leads to personal gain or advantage; or
  •  The individual has an existing or potential financial or other significant interest which impairs or might appear to impair the individual’s independence in the discharge of their responsibilities to the foundation.

2.2 Specific Relationships that May Create Conflicts of Interest

A variety of situations, affiliations and relationships may create potential conflicts of interest. Financial or other relationships (i.e., board/officer or other management positions) by an employee or their family with a prospective or actual grantee, contractor, vendor or supplier could potentially create the appearance of impropriety or interfere with an employee’s discharge of the employee’s responsibilities on behalf of and in the best interests of the foundation and should be disclosed on the employee’s Conflict of Interest Questionnaire. When deciding what kind of relationships should be disclosed, consider the situation from the perspective of an outsider and whether the relationship is of such a nature that it could raise an allegation of an apparent or actual conflict of interest, and then err on the side of transparency, as disclosure helps to alleviate or avoid future misunderstandings. Additionally, certain types of relationships

* The “family” of an individual includes his or her spouse, domestic partner, parents, siblings, children, and any other relative who resides in the same household.

between co-workers may create impermissible conflicts of interest. For example, a romantic relationship in the workplace may raise perceptions of bias and favoritism. For these reasons, personal/romantic or financial/business relationships between co-workers that could create the appearance of impropriety or interfere with an employee’s discharge of the employee’s responsibilities on behalf and in the best interests of the foundation should be promptly disclosed to the General Counsel or Human Resources.

2.3 Disclosure and Management of Conflicts of Interest

Should an appearance of impropriety or actual conflict of interest exist, appropriate actions must be taken, which will vary depending upon the particular facts. The employee involved in the conflict situation must work cooperatively with their manager to achieve a resolution of the conflict issues in the best interests of the foundation, as requested by the foundation. This may include the employee being removed from a position of decision-making authority with respect to the conflict situation or other more serious actions, depending upon the nature of the conflict. If the conflict involves a grant or a contract being entered into by the foundation, the due diligence review process must disclose the conflict and document the steps taken to address the conflict. A copy of this information must be provided to the Legal Team.

3. Gifts

As a general rule, foundation employees may not receive or offer any gift or anything else of significant value for the purpose of influencing the action of the foundation or of the recipient. Gifts (except those generally valued at $100 or less) received from vendors, suppliers, consultants, and grantees as part of normal business practice must be declined or given to the foundation or shared with the foundation generally, and if acknowledgement is appropriate, acknowledged on behalf of the foundation. This guideline is not intended to prohibit normal business practices, such as meetings over meals, corporate items given to participants in meetings and conferences, or token hosting gifts, as long as they are of nominal and reasonable value and promote the foundation’s legitimate business interests. If an employee believes there is an appropriate reason to make an exemption to this policy for an individual situation, he or she should contact the Legal Team prior to giving or accepting the gift.

4. Director’s Fees, Honorariums, Expense Reimbursements, and other Similar Payments

Staff members are encouraged to undertake speaking engagements, serve on boards and write articles, provided the time for such activities does not interfere with the employee’s foundation responsibilities. Director’s fees, author’s royalties, honorariums, and payments for published articles or speaking engagements should only be accepted, however if: (1) the materials prepared and all activities undertaken in connection with these activities are prepared or conducted on personal time, (2) the issues addressed are not related to the foundation’s activities or mission, (3) foundation resources are not utilized, and (4) the organization making the payment is not a foundation grantee. If an employee believes an exceptional circumstance merits an exception to this policy, the employee should consult the Legal Team for advice and appropriate documentation. Travel costs and expenses incurred in connection with any activities that are not foundation related must be borne by the individual or the organization inviting the individual to participate in the activity and should not be paid or reimbursed by the foundation.

5. Accepting Compensated Work Outside the Foundation

Officers, Directors and Staff must report additional positions they accept for compensated work to the Secretary before performing additional activities outside of the foundations scope.

6. Political Activities

The foundation is strictly prohibited from engaging in electoral politics or lobbying activities. Foundation employees are free to engage in these types of political activities on a personal basis provided the activities do not conflict with their ability to carry out their foundation responsibilities or create confusion between positions or actions that are taken by them personally versus as a foundation representative. Before a foundation employee becomes actively involved in a political campaign or activity, the employee should discuss with the Legal Team appropriate actions to avoid or minimize the risk of the employee’s personal actions being attributed to the foundation and also review any other unintended potential impacts such activity could have on the foundation. Individual political activities should only occur during off-duty hours, at the employee’s own expense, and without use of the foundation’s name, resources, facilities, or equipment. If an employee is asked to sign political advertisements or endorsements that include employment, a generic description should be used such as “foundation program officer” or “grant maker in education” rather than including the name of the foundation. Only the Co-Chairs of the foundation can authorize the taking of any position by the foundation on legislation, referenda, or the like.

7. Competing for Foundation Individual Scholarships, Fellowships, or Awards

Employees of the foundation and their family members may not compete for foundation supported scholarships, fellowships, or awards including hardware.

8. Conflict of Interest Questionnaire

Upon commencement of employment and annually thereafter, all employees must complete a “Conflict of Interest Questionnaire.” Employees are also required to update the Conflict of Interest Questionnaire whenever there has been a change in the employee’s affiliations. Employees must disclose all of their affiliations, as requested by the form, even if there is no current conflict of interest.

9. Interpretation

This policy cannot describe all conflicts of interest situations that may arise involving the foundation. Therefore, foundation employees must use good judgment to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Appropriate circumstances may also justify exceptions to the application of the policy. If you have any questions about this policy or its application, please err on the side of caution and transparency and seek advice from the Legal Team prior to entering into such transaction.