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November 3, 2022

Executive Compensation at Research America (2021)

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,” which I would venture to say is common knowledge. In fact, I don’t know anyone who is not aware of the benefits of medical research. So, what does Research America really do? That’s the million dollar question that can’t even be answered if googled.

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 the specific agenda is remains unclear.  Most 501 (c) 3’s are not set up as membership organizations with dues representing about 10% of revenue.

Research America has 34 voting members (board members) of its governing body (board of directors), of whom 33 are independent.  24 of the 34 (71%) board members are male while 10 of the 34 (29%) are female.

Research America is a very, very small non-profit that has historically raised about $4 million annually but whose revenue jumped to $10 million in 2021, because of an unnamed donor who donated more than $5 million.

Expenses total $4.4 million (42% of revenue) in 2021, with the largest expense reported to be compensation.  30 employees received $2.9 million in compensation, with the 5 most highly compensated employees accounting for $1.6 million (which means 25 employees received $1.3 million in compensation, which equates to an average compensation of $52,000).

The 5 most highly compensated employees were reported to be:

  • $526,274:  Mary Woolley, President and CEO
  • $311,410:  Michael Coburn, EVP and COO
  • $278,710:  Eleanor Dehoney, VP, Policy & Advocacy
  • $276,797:  Jennifer Luray, VP, Communications
  • $215,406:  Donna McKelvey, VP, Development

Mary Woolley, the President and CEO of Research America since 1989, received $526,274 in compensation in 2021, and has received nearly $3 million in compensation since 2017:

  • 2021:  $526,274
  • 2020: $549,872
  • 2019:  $590,051
  • 2018:  $582,399
  • 2017:  $560,709

To read the IRS Form 990 (2021), click here.

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