If there's one thing I'm sick of in my AIDS accountability efforts, it's not the excessive compensation packages of some executives, it's how they refuse to engage in a discussion with the community about their earnings. Too often when clients, activists and reporters attempt to understand why the salaries are so elevated, the executives and their underlings say "no comment," or issue vague written statements designed to deflect attention away from the greed of agency leaders.
Joining the long list of such AIDS agencies is Food and Friends. This is from an email sent by Lisa Bandera, communications director for the food bank:
We have no comment with respect to your recent blog entry.
But what I found newly troubling about the AIDS food agency is that they've spent agency dollars, intended for hot meals and beverages to keep people with AIDS alive, hiring a consulting firm and nonprofit experts to guide the board of directors in determining the executive director's compensation. I'd like to know how much money was spent on the outside consultants and why the board needs so much outside assistance in making a salary decision.
Supporters of Food and Friends should start asking questions about their donations, and requiring that their contributions go to meals and juices for clients, not outrageous salaries or outside consultants.
From the excellent Blade article by Lou Chibbaro:
Food & Friends, a non-profit group founded 20 years ago in a church basement, says the city’s HIV/AIDS Administration reduced its funding allocation from the federal Ryan White AIDS program by $303,000 in March, just as the group faced rising gas and food prices and a decline in private donations due to a sluggish economy.
“We are in a solid and stable financial position,” said Craig Shniderman, the group’s executive director. “But we can’t spend money we don’t have. We have no choice but to reduce some of our services.”
But Shniderman this week was criticized by prominent AIDS activist and blogger Michael Petrelis, who published information from the latest available IRS finance report for Food & Friends, which showed Shniderman received a combined salary and benefits package in
2006 of $334,551 . . .
Shniderman declined to comment on his salary, saying his organization’s board is in charge of handling those matters.
Robert Hall III, president of the Food & Friends board of directors, said in a written statement that the board sets Shniderman’s salary and benefits by retaining a “nationally recognized compensation and human resources consulting firm” and independent consults to study “national, regional and local data” pertaining to salaries for executives similar to Shniderman.
“We are fortunate that Craig Shniderman has served as our executive director for more than 13 years and we have benefited from his more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit field,” Hall said. “Food & Friends requires, and receives, from Craig exemplary leadership, planning, fundraising and management so as to meet client needs.” . . .
An announcement on the Food & Friends web site says the group has reduced its expenditures for client services by $223,000, with the hope that the reduction could be reversed if government funding cuts are restored next year.
The reduction in services will include reduced meal deliveries to family members of clients in D.C., reduced liquid nutritional supplements except for clients who are under weight or who have a crucial need for supplements, the elimination of juice from client meal bags and a reduction by 50 percent of the number of new clients the group will accept from D.C. and Virginia . . .