Boston Jewish Federation Chief Gets $1.3M Retirement Windfall

Boston’s Jewish federation gave its longtime president a $1.3 million payout, new tax filings show.

Barry Shrage, who has led the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston since 1987, received the payment in late 2014, on top of his annual salary of $343,000.

The one-time windfall came after a consultant told the organization’s board that Shrage’s compensation over the past decade put him below the median for similar non-profit executives.

“The view was that would help him in retirement, but it wasn’t a retirement payment in that he continues to work at CJP,” said Neil Wallack, chair of the group’s board of directors.

Shrage, 69, has no immediate retirement plans, Wallack said. Though the payment was made nearly two years ago, the long process of making non-profit tax filings public means that it was publicly disclosed only recently.

The CJP is an umbrella group for Jewish charities in Boston and one of the largest Jewish federations in the country. The organization raised $392 million in contributions in the fiscal year ending in June 2015 and has assets of more than $1 billion. Shrage oversees a staff of 200 people.

The Forward’s annual analysis of Jewish nonprofit executive salaries has consistently pegged Shrage as “underpaid” relative to other Jewish charity executives, based on a statistical model that takes organization size into account.

Wallack said that the board had retained an outside consultant to review Shrage’s compensation over the past decade and determined it was below average, compared to his peer group. The board decided that it would be a “fair approach” to make a one-time payment to bring his total compensation over that period to slightly above average.

Wallack said that no similar retrospective analysis had been done to determine whether more junior employees at CJP had been underpaid.

“He has really been an extraordinarily visionary and thoughtful leader for the past thirty years, and the value he’s brought to our community is certainly immeasurable,” Wallack said. “We believe that this, certainly as a minimum, is how he should be compensated, reflecting those accomplishments.”

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or follow him on Twitter, @joshnathankazis.

Author

Josh Nathan-Kazis

Josh Nathan-Kazis

Josh Nathan-Kazis is a staff writer for the Forward. He covers charities and politics, and writes investigations and longform.

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Boston Jewish Federation Chief Gets $1.3M Retirement Windfall

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