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Martha Whetstone, an attorney with deep ties to the Democratic Party’s upper echelons, has left the Bar Association of San Francisco after three years as the group’s executive director. Whetstone resigned effective April 30, according to the bar association, though Whetstone herself could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. Daniel Burkhardt, who has served as deputy director and chief operating officer at BASF since 2003, is now serving as acting executive director. BASF President Joan Haratani, a partner at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, declined to say Tuesday when Whetstone offered her resignation or to delve into any detail about any reasons for the departure, saying simply, “That was Martha’s decision.” But Haratani emphasized that Whetstone had done much to enlarge BASF’s profile. “She definitely brought the bar to the next level,” Haratani said, and “was the right leader for us at the right time.” The group’s board of directors will form a search committee to decide on a replacement, according to the bar’s director of communications. Whetstone was the second person to lead the BASF staff since longtime executive director Drucilla Ramey departed in 2001 after more than 15 years in that role. Her immediate successor, Teveia Barnes, announced her own resignation in 2003 after 14 months on the job. When Whetstone stepped in, she brought significant Democratic connections to the position. She had served as a regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a post she’d been appointed to in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton. A native of Arkansas and personal friend of the Clintons, Whetstone had spent significant time in the 1990s as a senior staffer on Clinton’s presidential campaigns and as the Northern California political director for the Democratic National Committee. In the last few years, Whetstone’s network has been credited with bringing in such high-profile speakers to BASF events as presidential candidates Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards, and more recently, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Whetstone was also responsible for strengthening the ties between the San Francisco 49ers Foundation and a BASF-run program at a local high school that helps students apply to college. During Whetstone’s tenure, funding for the School to College program increased five-fold, according to BASF.

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