Declan Kelly, an influential advisor to Fortune 500 executives, lost his seat on the board of campaign group Global Citizen and relinquished some of his responsibilities as president of strategy firm Teneo after allegations of drunken misconduct at a fundraising event.
Five people briefed on the matter said Kelly behaved inappropriately at a May 2 concert linked to Global Citizen’s high-profile concert. It was chaired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and included artists including Jennifer Lopez.
Two of these people and one person with first-hand knowledge claimed that the inappropriate behavior included the unpleasant touching of a number of women.
“At a large cocktail party that evening attended by dozens of people including Global Citizen board members and guests, Mr. Kelly became intoxicated and behaved inappropriately towards some of the women and men at the event,” a Kelly spokesperson said, adding that he “deeply regrets his actions.” He apologized to those he offended.
The next day, Global Citizen removed him from its board of directors, according to two people briefed on the matter, while another said Kelly had been asked to resign. Global Citizen has launched an independent investigation into the incident, which is yet to be concluded.
In a statement in response to Financial Times questions about whether Kelly was involved in inappropriately touching women at the event, Global Citizen said: “On May 3, Global Citizen was notified of the incidents and on May 3, Declan Kelly was removed from the board of directors.”
The organization’s board is chaired by Christopher Stadler, an executive at CVC Capital Partners who led the private equity firm. $350 million investment in Teneo In 2019. That deal gave her a majority stake and valued Teneo at $700 million.
The incident raises questions about the future of Teneo, Kelly’s 1,200-person public relations firm that has billed itself as “the world’s leading consulting firm for CEOs.”
Kelly is still president and CEO, but he has told senior colleagues in the company that he is handing some of his duties to others on the Global Management Committee.
His spokesperson said he had “temporarily reduced his work responsibilities”, was “committed to sobriety” and was “receiving ongoing advice from healthcare professionals”.
Kelly, who has worked for years with Global Citizen, was the organizer of the event called Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, which sought to garner support for a wider distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The event included messages from public figures including Pope Francis and US President Joe Biden.
Artists from Lopez to Selena Gomez give interviews on the red carpet in front of a backdrop displaying the logos of Teneo and its many of its customers, including Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines.
Kelly is known for advising some of the world’s largest companies on how to position themselves as responsible social actors.
“It is quite clear now that unless you connect your goal and your values with all your stakeholders and the wider world, you will be left behind,” he said in promotional video for Global Citizen in February.
Kelly, who was appointed by Hillary Clinton to be the State Department’s economic envoy to Northern Ireland in 2009, has used his political and corporate connections to support Global Citizen’s fundraisers.
His change of role at Teneo comes six months after his co-founder, Dog Band, he resigned as president of the company after an article detailing the breakdown of his relations with former US President Bill Clinton, who helped launch his Clinton Global Initiative.
Kelly and Band founded the company in 2011 and it has since expanded aggressively through a series of deals, investing in WestExec Advisors, a Washington geopolitical risk advisory firm, in March and completing the acquisition of Deloitte UK’s restructuring services earlier this month.
Emphasizing Teneo’s influence in business and politics, list senior advisors It includes former chief executives of Dow Chemical, IBM and Xerox as well as Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and William Hague, the former leader of the UK Conservative Party.
Amber Rudd, Britain’s former Home Secretary, joined last year as Senior Counsel.
Prior to founding Teneo, Kelly worked in a number of communications positions including at FTI Consulting, where he served as an executive after its acquisition of Financial Dynamics, a public relations firm, where he was a member of the management team.
In April, Kelly co-founded a new investment firm called Integrum Holdings, described as an innovative, mission-driven company focused on “technology-enabled services.”