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Analysis shows women at professional societies earn lower median pay than men, but women tend to lead smaller organizations. Female trade group CEOs had a higher median base and bonus than men despite running smaller groups. However, men still had greater total earnings, largely from retirement plan payouts.

March 21, 2014

By Mark R. Graham

Severance payments to outgoing leaders of big groups can equal 12 months or more of base pay, according to CEO Update’s upcoming report on CEO compensation in the largest associations.

The highest severance went to Ronald Henrichs, who led the American Academy of Dermatology for eight years, until June 2012. AAD paid Henrichs $325,862 in severance in 2012 and earmarked another $320,904 for 2013, bringing severance to double his base pay.

This report lists salaries of the CEOs of the 100 largest Chicago-area trade and professional groups. Information comes from IRS Form 990, the disclosure document filed by tax-exempt organizations, for fiscal years 2011 or 2012—the latest available.

Staffers working for Washington, D.C.-based trade groups among best paid, with 35 people earning more than $1 million in the latest tax year. Pay for this group of top-drawer staffers increased by a median of 7.7 percent. Even for the lowest paid on the list, this nets more than a $40,000 increase. Base and bonus pay increases were more on the modest side.

This report lists the 200 highest paid staffers at associations and public interest groups. The information is gathered from the IRS Form 990, the disclosure document filed by tax-exempt organizations, for fiscal years 2011 or 2012—the latest data available. The earnings column shows the combination of base pay, bonuses and other compensation paid during the tax year. The deferred column is the amount earned but not yet paid. The nontax column includes the value of nontaxable benefits. Go online to sort this chart by organization name.

More data still to emerge, but those leading larger trade groups, like U.S. Chamber’s Donohue, tend to outpace the field. A handful of chief executives appear on the highest paid list as the result of one-time supplemental executive retirement payouts, but this doesn’t mean those CEOs are leaving. SERP payments are paid throughout a CEO’s tenure as stipulated by a contract.

Panelists at a CEO Update Live event say that more association executives are pushing for larger packages. “The real argument for an association executive is that you are working for an organization that has a change of leadership, generally, every year,” attorney Art Herold said.

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