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October 22, 2021

Executive Compensation at Research America

by Anne Paddock

Research America is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (3) based in Arlington, Virginia (close to Washington, DC – the lobbying capital of the country) that “advocates for science, discovery, and innovation to achieve better health for all.”  Their mission is to “gain public awareness of the benefits to humankind of medical research.”

But, does the public need to be made aware of the benefits of medical research? Are they not already aware of the benefits of medical research?  Research America actually appears to be a lobbying group with a very specific agenda (they call themselves a membership organization but all members have to be approved by the Board of Directors) presenting itself as a non-profit, but what that specific agenda is remains unclear.

Research America has 32 voting members (board members) of its governing body (board of directors), of whom 31 are independent.  22 of the 32 (69%) board members are male while 10 of the 32 (31%) are female.

Research America is a very, very small non-profit that raised $4.4 million in 2020 (compared to $3.9 million in 2019) most of which came from three sources:  contributions, gifts, and grants ($2.4 million), membership dues ($1.4 million) which is unusual in a 501 (c) (3) because the organization is not a trade association or union , and the national forum ($0.6 million) – a 3-day virtual event in 2020..

Expenses total $3.7 million (84% of revenue) in 2020, with the largest expense reported to be compensation.  27 employees received $2.8 million in compensation, with the 5 most highly compensated employees accounting for $1.6 million (which means 22 employees received $1.2 million in compensation, which equates to an average compensation of $55,000).

The 5 most highly compensated employees were reported to be:

  • $549,872:  Mary Woolley, President and CEO
  • $306,060:  Michael Coburn, EVP and COO
  • $273,671:  Eleanor Dehoney, VP, Policy & Advocacy
  • $269,054:  Jennifer Luray, VP, Communications
  • $211,589:  Donna McKelvey, VP, Development

Mary Woolley, the President and CEO of Research America since 1989, received nearly $550,000 in compensation in 2020.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2020), click here.

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