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June 24, 2022

Executive Compensation at the National Geographic Society (2020)

by Anne Paddock

When we think of the National Geographic Society (NGS), we often think of the magazine, which according to my childhood friends, was the first magazine they could look through to see naked people. But, the National Geographic Society is so much more than just the magazine. In their own words, they “identify and invest in an international community of explorers:  leading scientists, educators, storytellers, conservationists, technologists, and many other change makers who help us define some of the critical challenges of our time….”

The NGS is a tax-exempt non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization based in Washington, DC that primarily relies on investment income (gains on the sale of investments, dividends, interest, etc), royalties, and contributions for revenue.  With $1.6 billion in net assets, NGS has the ability to rely on these resources to keep their programs going when contributions, gifts, and grants (roughly $20-$30 million annually) are not enough, and when revenue greatly decreases due to unforeseen circumstances, like the pandemic in 2020.

In 2020, revenue totaled $70 million (compared to $105 million in 2019 and $130 million in 2018), most of which came from investment income ($33 million), contributions, gifts, and grants ($20 million), royalties ($15 million), and education programs ($2 million). It is important to note the net assets were $1.5 billion at the beginning of the year.  With $134 million of unrealized gains on investments, the investment return was 8.9%.

Expenses totaled $145 million (including $3 million in depreciation) with the largest expenses reported to be compensation ($54 million), grants ($19 million), fees for services ($46 million), office-related expenses ($8 million), and advertising/promotion ($8 million).

In 2020, 481 employees received $54 million in compensation (77% of revenue) for an average compensation of $112,000. However, only 172 employees received more than $100,000 with the 17 most highly compensated employees reported to be:

  • $788,290:  Michael Ulica, CFO/COO/Treasurer
  • $762,724:  Emma Carrasco, Chief Marketing and Engagement/SVP Global Strategy
  • $674,906:  Angelo M Grima, EVP and General Counsel/Corp Sec’y
  • $524,859:  Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO
  • $505,581:  Vicki Phillips, EVP and Chief Education Officer
  • $490,960:  Jonathan Baillie, Chief Scientist, EVP Science and Exploration
  • $489,935:  Michael J Cole, SVP, Controller, Asst Treasurer
  • $488,164:  Tara Bunch, Chief Admin Officer
  • $397,587:  Enric Sala, Explorer in Residence
  • $379,848:  Amy Kreider, Chief Media and Public Affairs Officer
  • $366,379:  Mara Dell, Chief Human Resources Officer
  • $343,669:  Kaitlin Yarnall, SVP, Chief Storytelling Officer
  • $343,957:  Alex Moen, VP Explorers Program
  • $320,747:  Jason Southern, Chief Technology Officer
  • $307,589:  Valerie Craig, VP, Operating Programs
  • $304,904:  Robert Bernard, Global Head of Strategic Partnerships
  • $295,876:  Christopher Johns, Director Executive, Yellowstone Project

The 17 most highly compensated employees received $8 million, which equates to an average compensation of $460,000.

9 of the 17 (53%) most highly compensated employees are male while 8 of the 17 (47%) are female.

98 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation with the five highest reported to be:

  • $3.9 million:  James G Davis Construction Corp, of Rockville, MD for general contracting
  • $3.6 million:  BBC Studios Production, of London, England for film production and editing
  • $3.6 million:  Digital Velocity Partners, of London, UK for IT services and consulting
  • $2.2 million:  Celerity IT, LLC, of McLean, VA for IT services and consulting
  • $2.0 million:  Otis Elevator Co, of Lanham, MD for elevator upgrade and repair

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

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