King says nonprofits pay too little

Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ousted last August as CEO of United Way of Central Carolinas over her compensation, Gloria Pace King said in an exclusive interview with the Philanthropy Journal that she helped raise awareness about the need for better pay for nonprofit professionals.

“I tried to create an organization where people were paid and benefits are great,” King said by phone the week before the Dec. 14 release of a task-report that concluded she had pushed for big increases in her pension despite concerns of a lawyer advising United Way.

The report also found United Way board’s compensation and executive committees acted “without sufficient information, attentiveness, independence and sensitivity, abetted by a flawed process in which authority and responsibility were ill-defined and broadly delegated.”

King declined after release of the report to comment on it, but said in the earlier phone interview, the first time she had talked to the media since her ouster, that she was proud of her 14-year tenure at United Way and sorry it ended the way it did.

She did not acknowledge any wrongdoing over her pay or apologize for the size of the compensation package, which grew to include a $2.1 million retirement plan.

Describing herself as a visionary leader, not a fundraiser, King said she had raised over $500 million for United Way of Central Carolinas as its CEO.

During that period, United Way increased the funds it raised in its annual campaign to $45.3 million last year from $18 million the year before King began her job in Charlotte.

“What I was able to do in building fantastic and treasured relationships in the region served the needs and the organizations very well,” she said.

“I feel like I had a phenomenal experience and I had the experience of a lifetime,” she said. “And I feel like I, up until now, put Charlotte’s health and human service community in a very positive place. And I put that United Way on the map locally and certainly on the map nationally. And I am quite proud of that.”

She said she was “deeply saddened” the controversy over her compensation had occurred.

“I care so much about this community, and so much about the people in need,” she said. “I am just sorry that this happened this way. I’m just really deeply sorry that this happened this way.”

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