The Most Overpaid and Underpaid Jewish Charity Chiefs

Salaries Aren't Just About Organization Size — They're About the Brand

Top 5 Overpaid: Marvin Hier, Matt Brooks, Morton Klein, Malcolm Hoenlein and Abraham Foxman are all overpaid, according to an independent analysis conducted by a statistics professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
PHOTOS, CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: GETTY IMAGES; COURTESY RJC; NAOMI ZEVELOFF; GETTY IMAGES; REUTERS
Top 5 Overpaid: Marvin Hier, Matt Brooks, Morton Klein, Malcolm Hoenlein and Abraham Foxman are all overpaid, according to an independent analysis conducted by a statistics professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

By Nathan Guttman

Published December 15, 2013, issue of December 20, 2013.
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Robert Wexler, 62, has been serving as president of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles since 1992. The non-sectarian Jewish higher education institute runs a budget of $25 million and employs 728 faculty and administrative staff members, but pays its top executive a lower salary than expected. With $225,560 in 2012, Wexler’s salary is lower by 36% than the predicted salary.

Also on the list of underpaid Jewish executives is Scott Kaufman, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Detroit. Kaufman, 47, was a real estate developer and a lay leader in the Jewish community before joining the federation. The federation spent $43 million in 2012 to provide services for the Jewish community of 80,000 in the city and its surrounding suburbs. Kaufman’s salary of $254,042 for running the organization represents a 36% underpay compared to the prediction.

While IRS rules prohibit not-for-profits from paying excessive salaries, there is no legal problem with underpayment. But, Lampkin said, “the organization should worry about being able to retain an executive who is underpaid.”

Rabbi David Zwiebel, 60, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, dispels this concern. He earns only $147,456 for running an $18 million organization with 451 employees. But for the former attorney, who left a high-paying career to head the group, this is of little concern.

“The rewards of trying to use one’s talents and energies to serve the Jewish community,” he said in an email, “extend far beyond monetary compensation.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter, @nathanguttman


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