Skip to content

May 14, 2023

Executive Compensation at the Nature Conservancy (2021)

by Anne Paddock

The Nature Conservancy – a 501 (c) (3) based in Arlington, Virginia – whose mission is “to conserve land and waters on which all life depends” has been around since 1951 and is one of the most popular and wealthy non-profits in the country.

There are 22 voting members (directors) of the governing body, 19 of whom are independent, although the Form 990 lists 23 directors (due to timing differences) – 11 (48%) of whom are male and 12 (52%).of whom are female.

The most recent financial information (the 2020 IRS Form 990 for the year ending June 30, 2021) reports the organization raised $1.3 billion (compared to $1.1 billion in 2020, $1 billion in 2019 and $1.2 billion in 2018) and spent $900 million. The difference between revenue raised and revenue spent was almost $400 million which along with nearly $400 million in net unrealized gains on investments and other changes in assets helped increase net fund assets from $7.1 billion at the beginning of the year to $7.8 billion at the end of the year. Many people see the Nature Conservancy as an organization that raises nearly a billion dollars a year and therefore has high staff costs. 3,880  persons were employed in 2021 (compared to  4,091 in 2020, 4,185 in 2019 and 4,099 in 2018) with total staff compensation reported to be $402 million which equates to an average compensation package of $104,000 per employee.  822 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation.  $8.5 million was paid to the following 18 staff:

  • $876,273:  Mark Burget, EVP and Regional Director
  • $712,589:  Charles Bedford, Regional Director
  • $665,904:  James Willis Asp, Former Chief Development Officer
  • $549,812:  Jennifer Morris, Director, CEO
  • $514,808:  Wisla Heneghan, COO and General Counsel
  • $510,765:  Seema Paul, Managing Director
  • $506,920:  Katherine Andrews, EVP, Global Strategies
  • $503,302:  Brian McPeek, Former Chief Conservation Officer (thru 7/2019)
  • $475,881:  Justin Adams, Global Managing Director, Lands
  • $470,138:  David Banks, Interim Chief Conservation Officer
  • $446,198:  Michael Sweeney, State Director
  • $412,973:  Thomas Neises, VP and Associate Chief Development Officer
  • $402,889:  Leonard Williams, CFO
  • $365,355:  Jan Glendening, Regional Managing Director, NA
  • $333,641:  Heather Tallis, Chief Scientist/Strategy Innovation
  • $281,293:  Sally Jewell, Director
  • $260,122:  Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist
  • $248,383:  Mark Tercek, Former Director, President, and CEO (thru 7/2019)

As listed above, 11 of the 18 (61%) of the most highly compensated employees are male while 7 – or 39% – are female.  Of the ten most highly compensated employees, 6 – or 60% – are men – and 4 are women.  Of the ten on the bottom of the list of the 18 most highly compensated employees, 7 are men and 3 are women.

The most highly compensated employee was Mark Burget, who received $876,273 in 2021 most of which was severance.  In 2020, Mr. Burget also received $876,273, most of which was also severance as he left the organization in March, 2020.

The IRS Form 990 also reports the organization paid for personal housing or provided a housing allowance along with gross up payments or tax indemnification.  Specifically,  for key employees working outside the US, a housing allowance or a residences for personal use is paid for by the Nature Conservancy as part of their participation in the Conservancy’s Global Mobility Program.

With regards to first class travel, “persons listed on the 990 may receive first class travel in limited circumstances, which include (1) when no economy fare was available, or (2) when there was no price difference.”

A separation payment of $728,876 was made to Mark Burget.

A separation payment of $600,000 was made to James Asp.

A separation payment of $487,500 was made to Katherine Andrews.

A separation payment of $350,000 was made to Brian McPeek.

A separation payment of $150,000 was made to Charles Bedford.

A separation payment of $97,115 was made to Heather Tallis.

The Nature Conservancy made a $10 million loan at 0% interest to Shirley Harry Hagey Community Property Trust, a trust related to Mr. Hagey, also a Board member to fund conservation loan in Idaho. The outstanding balance due is $10 million.

332 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation. The 5 most highly compensated were reported to be:

  • $10.8 million: Gulf Equipment Corp, of Mobile, AL for construction services
  • $ 5.6 million:  RR Donnelly and Sons Company, of Warrenville, IL for marketing services
  • $ 5.6 million:  DM Group, of Prince Frederick, MD for direct mail services
  • $ 3.4 million:  Tallwave LLC, of Scottsdale, AZ for professional fundraising services
  • $ 2.7 million:  J F Brennan Company, of La Crosse, WI for construction services

To read the IRS Form 990 (2020 for the year ending June 30, 2021), click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: