Women Continue To Lag Behind In Top Nonprofit Positions and Pay

Forward’s Compensation Survey Finds Men Got More, Better Raises

By Jane Eisner

Published December 08, 2010, issue of December 17, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

With reporting by Maia Efrem and Devra Ferst.

The Forward’s second annual survey of 74 major Jewish national organizations found that in the past year, women lost ground in leadership, continued to lag behind men in pay and did not experience the same increases in salary that a majority of the men enjoyed despite these recessionary times.

While there were 11 women serving as presidents and CEOs of federations, advocacy and public service groups, and religious institutions last year, there are now only nine. Even though the work force in these organizations is overwhelmingly female, the percentage of women in leadership roles has dropped in the past year to 12% from 14%.

Salaries of Jewish communal leaders in the U.S. (click to enlarge)
Salaries of Jewish communal leaders in the U.S. (click to enlarge)

In this, the Jewish communal experience is dramatically at odds with trends in the broader not-for-profit world. GuideStar, which collects the informational tax forms that not-for-profit groups are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service, reported in September that women were chief executives of nearly 47% of the nation’s charities in 2008. Although women were concentrated in smaller organizations, even in the larger charities — those with annual budgets of more than $1 million — they still held 38% of the top roles.

Using public records listed on GuideStar, the Forward found that the gap between male and female salaries among Jewish executives did grow smaller from 2008 to 2009, but women still earned only 67 cents to every dollar earned by men. The median salary for men was $316,074; for women it was $213,855.

Overall, Jewish not-for-profit leaders took home more pay in 2009, but here, too, there was a serious gender gap: For men, the median salary increase was 5.82%; for women it was 1.42%. Only six leaders in our survey took no pay increase at all, and three of them were women.

Nine men took a pay cut.

By at least one comparison, raises for not-for-profit leaders were more plentiful in Jewish organizations than they were nationwide. In a recent spot check of executive compensation at some of the nation’s biggest charities and foundations, The Chronicle of Philanthropy found that 59% of those leaders were paid more in 2009 than in 2008. Among the not-for-profit leaders in the Forward survey, nearly 80% received some sort of raise.

Among the nation’s 18 largest federations, leaders in only two cities — Chicago and San Francisco — took no pay increase at all. Most of the pay raises were modest, but a few federation leaders garnered large increases.

Officials of the Jewish Federations of North America declined to reveal the salary of Jerry Silverman, president and CEO, who assumed the top post in September 2009. The salary figures in the Forward chart refer to his predecessor, Howard Reiger.

Some women also received sizable salary increases during this period. Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service, saw her pay increase by 14.5%, and Karen Rubi nstein, national executive director of the American Zionist Movement, won a raise of 7.7%. Sara Bloomfield, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, remains the highest-paid woman in the Forward survey, earning $542,654 in 2009, a 6% increase from the previous year.

One anomaly continues to be Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, where the national president — right now it’s Nancy Falchuk — is a lay leader who is elected by the membership for a set term and receives no salary. For the purposes of this survey, then, the Forward cites the highest-salaried official at the organization, chief financial officer Rick Annis, who in 2009 earned $395,674.

Many of the Forward’s findings mirrored those of a study recently released by the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America and conducted by the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School. That study, of more than 2,000 Jewish communal professionals throughout the United States and Canada, also found that women made up only 12% of the leadership of that much larger group. Women lagged significantly behind men in compensation, earning about $28,000 less. Even when adjusting for age, years in the field, level of responsibility, hours worked and degrees earned, the gap was $20,000.

“Unlike many other challenges the community faces today, this one can be rectified with some good planning and fairer advancement of compensation policies,” Dan Brown wrote on his eJewish Philanthropy blog. “All have a responsibility to do their part in not just breaking the glass ceiling, but helping to level the playing field.”

This year, for the first time, the Forward is including ratings of Jewish not-for-profits listed in Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of more than 5,500 American charities. The website uses a system of awarding charities one to four stars (four being the highest), based mainly on financial measures, such as how much they spend on fundraising and the ratio of their administrative costs to their overall revenue.

While an imperfect guide, Charity Navigator does provide comparative data that could be useful for contributors. It also is helpful in highlighting what it considers to be the charities most in trouble, and the ones deserving of recognition. On its current top 10 list of “the best charities everyone’s heard of,” the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is ranked ninth.

Contact Jane Eisner at eisner@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.