The new CEO for the YMCA of Northern Rock County has agreed to base pay that’s less than half the amount former CEO Tom Den Boer was paid in recent years.
Angie Bolson was hired by the Y’s board last week to lead the Y in downtown Janesville and the Parker YMCA in Milton. She told The Gazette this week she’ll be paid a “starting salary” of $125,000.
Steve Yeko Jr., the Y board president, confirmed Bolson’s salary amount, telling The Gazette the $125,000 doesn’t include health benefits or “performance-based” bonuses Bolson might earn.
Under law, nonprofit organizations are required to disclose financial records, including leadership pay.
The most recently published tax documents for the YMCA of Northern Rock County show Den Boer in 2017 had total annual pay of $316,640. That figure included base pay of $251,000. Den Boer in 2017 also was paid $65,000 for other duties at the Y, including leading the Y foundation’s private fundraising, according to tax records.
Den Boer parted ways with the Y earlier this year after months-long uproar. Some members said Den Boer and a former Y board member were sidestepping the Y’s rules of governance by improperly removing board members and suspending some members who asked probing questions about the Y’s finances.
The Y board and the YMCA of the USA spent weeks investigating complaints and concerns over Den Boer’s conduct and what some said was a lack of transparency.
Bolson was one of two executives from the Pabst Farm YMCA in Oconomowoc who along with officials from the YMCA of the USA served as part-time, interim leaders at the Janesville Y in the wake of Den Boer’s departure.
For the past three months, Angie Bolson has worked to mend fences and listen to members, staff and community stakeholders as one of the interim directors of the YMCA of Northern Rock County.
In an interview with The Gazette last week, Bolson declined to disclose her pay. But this week, she reached out to The Gazette, saying she decided that sharing details of her pay would be in the best interests of “transparency.”
“I think it’s important for the community to know the process that the Y went through,” Bolson said. “There’s nothing to hide. I just spent four months doing a complete assessment at the Y, and I’m here to stay.”
Bolson said she wants to help the Y move past the “hang-ups” of the past year.
“This organization is moving forward at a fast pace. I never would have applied for this position if I didn’t think this organization didn’t have extreme, unrealized potential and that it didn’t have the right people surrounding it,” Bolson said.
Yeko said it became clear Bolson would be a natural fit at the Y because she got to know staff and the board through a months long process that included examining best practices, management logistics and governance at the Y. The Y board selected Bolson from a national search that drew 27 candidates, some of whom are employees at the YMCA of Northern Rock County.
Bolson and Yeko said Bolson’s base salary was based on a recommendation by YMCA of the USA officials. The Y’s local board and the national Y determined Bolson’s salary by comparing how much other Y CEOs with similar experience are paid at Ys that are similar in size to the YMCA of Northern Rock County, which has a $2 million annual budget.
Yeko said the national Y advertised the CEO position in Janesville as offering base pay between $110,000 and $135,000, which was the average pay range for similarly sized YMCAs.
According to 2018 tax records, the similarly sized Beloit YMCA paid CEO Doug Britt $121,000.
Yeko said he believes Bolson will have all the same duties and responsibilities as Den Boer. When asked why Den Boer was paid more, Yeko said he couldn’t speak to Den Boer’s initial pay agreement at the Y, but he said Den Boer had been compensated, at least in part, for his long tenure in Janesville.
“I didn’t hire Tom, but I’d say his tenure as CEO probably was one of the reasons for his pay amount. Tom was here for a decade, quite a while. During that time, he oversaw building another Y location in Milton,” Yeko said.
Bolson said she considers her base pay fair because it’s based on a national average for Y leadership and because the salary is commensurate with the local Y’s budget size.
“It’s obviously significantly lower than what Tom (Den Boer) was being paid, but it’s equitable. That was kind of the goal of what the Y’s board wanted to get back to,” Bolson said. “It feels comfortable within the operating budget, and it’s something the organization is able to sustain, too.”
Bolson is an Oconomowoc native and a UW-Whitewater graduate. She had worked for the Pabst Farm YMCA for 21 years, first for more than a decade as the director of daycare services and later as a program director, a branch manager and most recently as vice president of strategic initiatives.