Women Leaders of Jewish Non-Profits Remain Scarce Even as Pay Gap Narrows

First Ever Analysis of Salaries Explains Pay Gap

kurt hoffman

By Maia Efrem and Jane Eisner

Published December 15, 2013, issue of December 27, 2013.
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In the five years since the Forward began publishing an annual list of leadership and compensation at the largest Jewish national not-for-profit organizations, a theme has emerged: The very few women leading these organizations are paid far less than their male colleagues, and the overall numbers haven’t budged significantly.

This year, there are still only 10 women leaders among the 74 organizational executives, a paltry 13.5%, and there’s still the same gender gap in pay, with women earning about 66 cents for every dollar earned by the men in the upper echelons of Jewish communal power.

Now, a first-ever analysis conducted for the Forward by independent experts has found that some of the pay gap is caused by the fact that women are concentrated in smaller organizations, which tend to pay their CEOs lower salaries. The analysis also found that the pay gap has narrowed over time, but it was unable to quantify why the gap continues to exist at all.

The analysis, led by Abraham Wyner, a professor of statistics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, created a model to predict the salaries of executives based on the size of their organizations, taking into account the number of employees and the amount of expenditures. This sort of compensation analysis is standard for evaluating the fairness of not-for-profit executive pay.

Who Earns What? Click Here To See All of the Salaries

The Wharton analysis shows that the gender gap in pay narrowed: In 2009, women earned about 73 cents for every dollar earned by men; in this year’s survey they earn 81 cents, when controlling for organizational size. The change was largely due to the recent inclusion in the survey of a handful of women who are being paid slightly more than predicted using the Wharton model — topped by the highest-paid woman on the list, Janice Weinman, executive director and CEO of Hadassah. Otherwise, women’s salaries grew at a slower rate than men’s.

Most striking in the new analysis is the variation in pay. In general, women earn about 20% less than men, even after taking into account the size of the organization. By using that same model, some men were found to be demonstrably underpaid while others were highly overpaid — even though federal regulations say that not-for-profits cannot pay “excessive compensation” to their leadership.

“Salaries in the charity area are a big problem,” said Ray Madoff, a Boston College Law School professor who is an expert on charitable giving. “They are pricing themselves like for-profit businesses, and there is nothing that really reins them in.”

As in previous years, the Forward uses data from the 990 tax forms that not-for-profits are required to file with the Internal Revenue Service, and then seeks to verify the information with each organization on the list. Data from 2013 are used when they are made available. Leaders of religious institutions are not obliged to make public their salaries and other information about their operations, and have declined to do so.

While financial data for not-for-profits are supposed to be publicly available online and in person, some organizations on the Forward list obscure the source and, therefore, the amount of their executive’s total salaries. Ten groups pay their leaders from at least two different but interlocking sources, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Anti-Defamation League, J Street, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Hadassah, Agudath Israel of America, Bend the Arc, and Jewish federations in MetroWest New Jersey and in Chicago.

Salaries of Chief Executives of Jewish Not-for-profit Organizations From 2008-2012

  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008


Executives’ salaries are represented by bars whose height is proportional to the salary and whose color represents gender (orange for men, blue for women.) Use the cursor to see more details and click the year buttons to compare the remuneration over time. (Credit: Pedro Moura).


Some of the executives of these organizations are among the most overpaid in the Jewish communal world, according to the Wharton analysis. (See the accompanying story.)

And many well-compensated Jewish executives also receive generous side benefits.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is paid by both the center and the SWC Museum Corp, for a combined salary of $751,054. So is his wife, Marlene Hier, whose total pay in 2012 amounted to $380,641. Their son, Alan Hier, is also on the SWC Museum payroll, earning $150,718 in 2012.

In addition, the 990 form says that “certain staff receive parsonage allowance for providing ministerial services,” but it does not name names.

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, continues to receive a subsidy for the property taxes on his home in Westchester County, N.Y. In 2012 it amounted to $26,525. The AJC also pays for all the travel costs of family members who accompany Harris on certain AJC overseas trips.

Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, receives a $450 monthly housing bonus, while Jay Sanderson, president and CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, gets an auto allowance.

Spousal travel seems to be another common perquisite, granted to the federation leaders in Miami and Palm Beach, Fla; Cleveland; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh, and Boston. The top officials of organizations as varied as B’nai B’rith International, Brandeis University and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs also get to bring a spouse or companion with them when they travel, at no personal charge.

Sometimes executives enjoy one-time bonuses. John Ruskay, the longtime executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York, is planning to retire in 2014. On the organization’s 990 form for 2012, his retirement benefits were listed as $2,657,000.

Click on the maps below to see where all of the major Jewish not-for-profits, zoom in for details.

Jewish Not-for-Profits in the U.S. With Executive Salaries

Major Jewish Federations With Executive Salaries

For the complete salary survey analysis from Wharton analysts click here.

Contact Maia Efrem at efrem@forward.com

Contact Jane Eisner at eisner@forward.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jane_Eisner


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