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How do Aspen salaries compare?

The Aspen Times

June 9, 2007


By Rick Carroll

Six-figure salaries are typical for executives who run nonprofits that earn and spend millions of dollars, notes Sandra Miniutti, a vice president with Charity Navigator, a New Jersey-based nonprofit watchdog.

In fact, Charity Navigator released a report in October showing that the average pay for the top boss of a nonprofit with total expenses greater than $13.5 million was $250,464. Executive pay averaged $140,634 for nonprofits with total expenses between $3.5 million and $13.5 million, while those organizations with total expenses below $3.5 million paid an average of $86,384 to their executives, Charity Navigator’s study showed.

The average pay of top executives surveyed was 3.37 percent of their organizations’ total expenses, the study showed.

Keeping those figures in mind, The Aspen Times compared how the top local nonprofit breadwinners measured up to the averages found in the Charity Navigator survey, and found the top brass of only one organization — MAA — earned a lower percentage than the national average. On the other hand, executive pay for GrassRoots TV and the Aspen Global Change Institute accounted for between six and seven times the national average.

Of the Top 25 nonprofit employees in our survey, nine of them are either CEOs or executive directors who remain at their positions. Here’s how they stack up to the national average:

• The $395,713 combined salary of Donald Roth and Alan Fletcher represented 2.5 percent of Music Associates of Aspen’s $14.8 million expense budget, IRS records show. That’s below the 3.37 percent average from the Charity Navigator study.

• Executive Director Jim Horowitz’s $190,221 paycheck accounted for 3.7 percent of Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ $5.4 million in total expenses, slightly above the national average.

• The $164,035 salary for Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, the executive director of the Aspen Art Museum, accounted for 8 percent of the nonprofit’s $2 million in expenses, more than double the national average.

• Kris Marsh’s $129,500 salary as executive director of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation represented 7.8 percent of the organization’s $1.7 million in total expenses, twice the national average.

• The $122,938 drawn by Lani Shaw, executive director of the General Service Foundation, which bills itself as a human rights and democracy program, made up 3.5 percent of the organization’s $3.5 million in total expenses, just above the national average.

• Debbie Braun’s salary of $105,540 was 6 percent of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s $1.8 million in total expenses, above the national average.

• GrassRoots TV Executive Director John Masters’ $94,914 salary was nearly 25 percent of the public access station’s $383,078 in total expenses, equating to more than seven times the national average.

• The paycheck for the executive director of the Aspen Global Change Institute accounted for 21 percent of the nonprofit’s total expenses, or more than six times the national average. Of the $452,076 spent by the institute, John Katzenberger collected $94,107.

• Houston Cowan, the CEO of Challenge Aspen, earned $87,440, which accounted for 11 percent of the organization’s total expenses of $799,716. That equates to more than three times the national average.


$12.3 million — Amount the Music Associates of Aspen spent on music education, including orchestral and chamber performances, over nine weeks last summer

$4.9 million — Amount Jazz Aspen Snowmass spent on its concerts and education programs from October 2004 to September 2005

• • • •

$450,003 — Salary of Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

$406,830 — Salary of the Rev. Billy Graham, founder of the Charlotte, N.C.-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

$14,168 — Salary of Tanya Youngling, director of the Aspen-based Bible-study group, Bigger Picture Ministries

• • • •

$20,000 — Salary for John Phillips, club manager of the nonprofit Smuggler Racquet Club

10 — Number of hours Phillips works per week

• • • •

$115,525 — Average compensation of nonprofit CEOs in the Mountain West, which includes the Aspen area, in 2006

$173,267 — Average compensation of nonprofit CEOs in the Northeast, in 2006

• • • •

$192,671 —Amount Jazz Aspen Snowmass spent on security for its June and September concerts in 2005

$183,465 — Combined salaries of Lisa Consiglio ($66,000), Georgia Hanson ($63,804) and Peg McGavock ($53,661), executive directors of Aspen Writers’ Foundation, Aspen Historical Society and Response: Help for Battered Women, respectively

• • • •

$62,438 — Expense account for Don Roth, former CEO and president of Music Associates of Aspen, from October 2004 through September 2005.

$29,756 —salary of Jere Rood, executive director of Lift-Up

$12,000 — salary of Brian McCall, president of Roaring Fork Avalanche Center

Sources: IRS, Charity Navigator, The Charlotte Observer

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