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October 18, 2021

Executive Compensation at the Southern Poverty Law Center

by Anne Paddock

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was established in 1971 as a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (3) advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation.

Based in Montgomery, Alabama, the SPLC has 13 independent voting members on its governing body although 15 are listed on the most recent Form 990 (2019 for the year ending October 31, 2020), 9 (60%) of whom are male while 6 (40%) are female.

In 2020, the SPLC reported total revenue of $133 million and total expenses of $97 million (including $2 million in depreciation) with the largest expense being compensation at $37 million.

475 employees received $37 million in combination which equates to an average compensation of $78,000.  70 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation with the 13 most highly compensated employees reported to be:

  • $413,587:  Richard Cohen, Outgoing President/CEO
  • $386,518:  Karen Baynes-Dunning, Interim President/CEO
  • $284,465:  Rhonda Brownstein, Outgoing Legal Director
  • $260,534:  Ed Lord, Chief Development Officer
  • $234,270:  Teenie Hutchison, Secretary/Treasurer
  • $233,586:  Seth Levi, Chief Program Strategy Officer
  • $213,701:  Lecia Brooks, Chief of Staff
  • $202,008:  Maureen Costello, Director of Teaching Toller
  • $201,100:  Lisa Graybill, Deputy Legal Director
  • $198,811:  Heidi Bearich, Director – Intel Project
  • $197,551:  Erik Olvera, Chief Communications Officer
  • $193,880:  James Knoepp, General Counsel
  • $193,713:  David Dinielli, Deputy Legal Director

7 of the 13 most highly compensated employees are female while 6 of the 13 are male.

SPLC paid for a membership in a social (business luncheon) club on behalf of the President/CEO at minimal cost for business purposes.

Richard Cohen received a severance payment of $189,278 (included above).

Rhonda Brownstein received a severance payment of $101,197 (included above).

36 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation. The five most highly compensated independent contractors were reported to be:

  • $1,302,232:  Everbridge, Inc, of LA, CA for database services
  • $1,091,012:  Names in the News, of Oakland, CA for mail list/merge/purge services
  • $  982,792:  Buckley LLP, of Washington, DC for consulting
  • $  818,096:  Lawrence and Bundy, of Atlanta, GA for legal services
  • $  460,862:  Thinkshout, Inc, of Portland, OR for web application development

To read the IRS Form 990 (2019 for the year ending October 31, 2020), click here.

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