Entertainment

Executive director of Archewell Foundation leaves after one year


The executive director of Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Foundation has left after just one year to take on a ‘senior advisory’ role.

Catherine St-Laurent took on the position of ‘chief of staff’ and ‘executive director’ of the Sussexes’ non-profit enterprise in April 2020.

But it was today revealed that she has been replaced by Meghan and Harry’s UK PR chief James Holt.

And, in a sign of the couple’s growing ventures across the pond, it was today announced that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have hired veteran producer Ben Browning to head up their film and TV company.

He will be responsible for the couple’s Netflix and Spotify deals – worth an estimated £80million.

Mother-of-two Ms St-Laurent will instead take on a senior advisory role for Archewell, and will ‘continue to bring high-level strategic guidance’ to the foundation, a spokesman told Page Six.

The executive director of Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Foundation has left the top role after just one year to take on a ‘senior advisory’ role. Pictured: Harry and Meghan’s Oprah interview

Catherine St-Laurent took on the position of 'chief of staff' and 'executive director' of the Sussexes' non-profit enterprise in April 2020

But it was today revealed that she has been replaced by Meghan and Harry's UK PR chief, James Holt (pictured)

Catherine St-Laurent (left) took on the position of ‘chief of staff’ and ‘executive director’ of the Sussexes’ non-profit enterprise in April 2020. But it was today revealed that she has been replaced by Meghan and Harry’s UK PR chief, James Holt (right)

The Canadian-born French speaker was previously the director at Pivotal Ventures – Melinda Gates’ women and families foundation – and held a top communications role at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

At the time of her appointment, she said she was ‘thrilled to be able to play a supporting role in realising their vision and enabling them to achieve impact on the issues that matter most to them’. 

Mr Holt formerly led communications for the Royal Foundation, the charity headed by the Cambridges, and for the Liberal Democrats.

He is said to be passionate about many of the causes championed by Harry and Meghan. 

A spokesperson for the Sussexes said Ms St-Laurent ‘will continue to bring high-level strategic guidance to Archewell, which she helped launch and build over the course of the past year’. 

Just days after Meghan and Harry’s bombshell two-hour Oprah Winfrey special, the couple announced they were hiring producer Mr Browning to head up their film and television ambitions in the US.

He has taken on the role of head of content for Archewell Productions and Archewell Audio after being recommended to the couple by a mutual entertainment industry contact.

Mr Browning has previously worked on films including The Big Sick, Arrival, Room and Late Night and is set to head up Archewell’s work with Spotify and Netflix.

Most recently,  Mr Browning worked on Promising Young Woman, starring Carey MulliganZwas nominated for five Oscars.

Mr Browning said in a statement to Forbes: ‘From the moment they shared their vision for Archewell as a global production company that will spotlight diverse voices and share uplifting stories, I knew I wanted to help with this unique opportunity.

‘It’s a thrilling company to be starting.’ 

Melissa Touabti (pictured), Meghan's personal assistant, departed six months after the royal wedding

Harry and Meghan’s shared private secretary Samantha Cohen (pictured) resigned after 17 years with the royal family just weeks after Ms Toubati

Melissa Touabti (left), Meghan’s personal assistant, departed six months after the royal wedding. Harry and Meghan’s shared private secretary Samantha Cohen (right) resigned after 17 years with the royal family just weeks after Ms Toubati 

It comes days after reports that a law firm brought in by Buckingham Palace to review the handling of claims that the Duchess of Sussex bullied staff is drafting questions to be sent to current and former employees.

The allegations – angrily denied by the Duchess –were made in October 2018 when Jason Knauf, then Meghan and Harry’s communications secretary, detailed his concerns in an email to Simon Case, then the Duke of Cambridge’s private secretary.

In the email, published by The Times, Mr Knauf wrote: ‘I am very concerned that the Duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household… 

‘The treatment of [X, name redacted] was totally unacceptable… 

‘The Duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. She is bullying [Y] and seeking to undermine her confidence.’

A spokesman for the Sussexes said the couple were victims of a calculated smear campaign, adding that the Duchess was ‘saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself’.

An independent law firm is assessing if ‘lessons can be learnt’ from the handling of the original complaint with aides past and present invited to contribute.

A Palace spokesman declined to comment, but a source said the public should not expect ‘a running commentary’ on the inquiry, which is unlikely to conclude until next year. 

Melissa Touabti, Meghan’s personal assistant, departed six months after the royal wedding. 

Harry and Meghan’s shared private secretary Samantha Cohen resigned after 17 years with the royal family just weeks after Ms Toubati.



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