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Avista CEO Morris, wife pledge $3 million to foundations

Avista CEO Scott Morris and his wife, Liz, have pledged $3 million to local charitable efforts. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Avista CEO Scott Morris and his wife, Liz, have pledged $3 million to local charitable efforts. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The Avista Foundation announced Wednesday it will receive its first individual endowment, courtesy of Avista Corp. CEO Scott Morris and his wife, Liz.

The couple have made a $1 million pledge to foundation for the establishment of the Scott and Liz Morris Employee Engagement Fund, which will support Avista employee service in the community, according to a foundation news release.

Additionally, the Morrises have pledged $2 million in support of community initiatives and will create a private foundation to direct future charitable contributions to organizations important to them and that have made a “meaningful difference” in their lives.

Both pledges will be fulfilled upon completion of Avista’s merger with Hydro One, the release said. The $5.3 billion tie-up was announced in June; the Spokane company’s sale to the Toronto-based utility is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018.

The Avista Foundation, the charitable arm of the Avista, funds community nonprofit organizations throughout the utility’s service area. It focuses its giving in areas of education, vulnerable and limited-income populations, and economic and cultural vitality.

The foundation reported gifts last year of $641,332 to the IRS, according to the organization’s most recent filing with the agency. Among the top beneficiaries were the foundations supporting Whitworth University, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the United Way and Providence Health Care.

“This is a way for us to thank Avista employees and support them for all they do for our communities,” the Morrises said in announcing the pledge for the endowed Avista Foundation fund.

As part of the Hydro One deal, the Canadian utility will contribute $7 million to the Avista Foundation when the transaction closes and will continue to make an annual contribution of $2 million to the foundation.

“The $1 million personal contribution to our Foundation is an incredible investment by Scott and Liz in our employees and in the communities they serve across the five states in our service area,” Avista Foundation President Patrick Lynch said in the release. “Their $3 million total investment is a visible and lasting extension of the generosity that Scott and Liz have long demonstrated and will serve as a fitting legacy to their commitment to the well-being of our communities.”


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