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 — King — has had a career at the top of the investment banking world.
What is clear is 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.
Such contributions went hand in hand with the bank’s business model.
“Everyone knew it was the go-to bank for woke CEOs,” one source told the New York Post. “They knew they were aligned politically. The companies SVB loaned money to all had a woke agenda.”
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.”
Mitchell was a prolific donor in 2016, but much less generous in 2020, donating only $593.33 each to Democratic parties in Minnesota, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
A veteran venture capitalist who co-founded Scale Venture Partners, Mitchell has been on the SVB board since 2010.
She’s been an outspoken advocate for venture capital, chairing the National Venture Capital Association and traveling frequently to Washington, DC, to lobby for Silicon Valley.
She also takes credit for co-authoring legislation on initial public offerings in 2012 that made it easier for start-ups to get publicly traded.
The San Francisco resident also prides herself on championing diversity, co-founding VentureForward, which focuses on “advancing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in the venture ecosystem.”
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.
Her woke credentials are not in doubt. In the same interview, she detailed how she saw her role as director as being about forcing companies to embrace diversity.
“It’s not enough to just report the numbers, instead, we need to demand a deep look at company culture — what are the informal networks and behaviors that support the status quo,” Burr said. “Discuss this at the board level and hold management teams accountable for real change.”
Winemaker who toasts neighbor Nancy Pelosi
Garen K. Staglin, who was elected to SVB’s board in 2012, is another serial Democratic donor.
He owns the Staglin Family Vineyard, a 61-acre certified organic property in bucolic Napa County. The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon retails above $300.
The 78-year-old and his wife, Shari, bought the estate in Rutherford in 1985, putting them in elevated company: Less than 15 minutes away is the Napa Valley estate owned by Democratic Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul.
Staglin has donated to Pelosi, but reserved his biggest donations for national figures.
He gave the Biden Victory Fund $10,000 in 2020, sent $54,000 to Clinton’s Hillary Victory Fund in 2016 (on top of $25,000 the previous year), backed Obama with $35,800 in 2011 and gave the Democratic National Committee $10,000 last year.
Obama official caught in race row
The most politically connected independent director is Mary J. Miller.
The 67-year-old was Obama’s under secretary for domestic finance at the Treasury Department from March 2012 to September 2014.
In her role, she implemented the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation that set the regulatory framework in which SVB operates — meaning she would have expert insight into the thinking of regulators dealing with the now-shuttered bank.
But her own attempt at a political career ended in disaster in 2020.
A longtime Baltimore resident, Miller ran to become the Charm City’s mayor in 2020, but finished third in the Democratic primary after an extraordinary race row.
A political action committee working on Miller’s behalf sent an explosive email to potential donors saying her campaign strategy was to target white voters — which would leave the two African American candidates to split the city’s majority black vote and clear her a path to victory, local station WBFF reported.
Confronted with the email two months before the primary, Miller insisted that the PAC — Citizens for Ethical Progressive Leadership — had nothing to do with her, saying in a mea culpa: “This is not who I am.”
It did not help: Miller limped in with just 15.6% of the vote among Democrats.
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.
While at Barclays, King was the CEO of investment banking. But he retired amid claims that he was quitting because he did not want to be subject to UK laws making senior bankers legally directly responsible for their unit’s mistakes, Bloomberg reported.
Additional reporting by Lydia Moynihan