United Way CEO shaped own compensation, report says

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The board of United Way of Central Carolinas showed a lack of knowledge and sensitivity in approving $2.1 million in salary and benefits for ousted CEO Gloria Pace King, says a report released Dec. 14 by an independent review panel.

The review panel, headed by lawyer Robert C. Sink, was created in September in the face of a public outcry over King’s salary and benefits package, which led to her dismissal.

The panel faulted board members for neglecting to seek detailed information or legal counsel before approving the package.

“Authority and responsibility were ill-defined and broadly delegated,” the report says.

King, who had developed a solid reputation for effectiveness since becoming CEO in 1994, began asking staff members in January 2004 to find ways to boost her pension benefits, the report says.

Staff members formed a panel, enlisting the help of an employee-benefits attorney and an actuarial firm, to investigate a plan that would avoid limits to King’s pension.

In September 2005, an attorney advised the panel that increasing King’s pay would violate tax laws.

On King’s request, the panel did not invite the attorney to later meetings, the report says.

It says King made changes to her proposed compensation plan only two days before the plan was presented to the board for review.

The changes added benefits to the previous plan, which would have paid King an additional $729,000 over six years.

The United Way board met Sept. 14, 2006, to review the $2.1 million package.

King’s total compensation for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2007, was roughly $1.2 million.

King also delayed until June 2008 to post on United Way’s website the Form 990 it is required to file with the IRS, a form that discloses the compensation for the organization’s highest-paid staff members, the report says.

The report by the seven-member volunteer panel also makes recommendations for restoring public trust, including reducing board size and analyzing compensation data from other organizations.

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