Enrichmond update/My conclusion with John Sydnor

John Sydnor is apparently no longer with the Enrichmond Foundation. He had served as Enrichmond’s executive director since 2011, with the support of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and other political allies, and he was a central player in Enrichmond’s dismaying stewardship of Evergreen and East End Cemeteries.

Way back in June 2017, I met Sydnor for the first time following the surprising announcement that his organization had just come into possession of Evergreen Cemetery. I wrote up my reflections then in a blog post titled My introduction to John Sydnor. At the time, I found the whole scenario to be ominous. The group’s silent acquisition of the cemetery through state funding didn’t make sense, and Sydnor’s responses to my questions were not reassuring. In hindsight, Enrichmond and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation seemed to have executed something of a bait-and-switch with the existing volunteer efforts at the cemeteries (headed by the Friends of East End Cemetery and the Evergreen Restoration Foundation), where cooperation and shared governance were promised initially but then dropped as soon as Enrichmond was at the helm. Then followed a slow-moving tragedy of outrages and exile.

Given that history, and the powers still in place at the Enrichmond Foundation, it is difficult to be optimistic that Sydnor’s departure might herald a different path for that organization or the cemeteries. And apparently Sydnor was not the only departure this year. Enrichmond’s family services supervisor, Kelly Pratt, and cemetery groundskeeper, Jim Shadoian, also left the organization recently. Yet last I checked, Parity LLC remained the owner of record for Evergreen and East End Cemeteries, and Parity’s sole officer was John Sydnor. There must be some fancy legal footwork going on right now.

All of these developments should be publicly acknowledged and discussed by the Enrichmond Foundation‘s board. Instead, we get a closed box, with grapevine-type rumors around it all. What is the board’s plan for the future of these sites?

  • update: reporter Chris Suarez addressed Sydnor’s departure and the future of the Enrichmond Foundation’s role at Evergreen/East End Cemeteries in a story for the May 22, 2022, edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Suarez found that neither J. David Young, the president of Enrichmond’s board, nor Jason McGarvey, spokesperson for the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, were willing to say what caused Sydnor’s departure, other than referencing “a new opportunity.” Young told Suarez that he would now be overseeing Enrichmond’s daily operations. Why worry?