The new CEO for the YMCA of Northern Rock County, Angie Bolson, will make far less than her predecessor, and some people are pointing to gender inequity to explain the pay gap.
But the problem isn’t that Bolson is being paid too little. Rather, her predecessor, Tom Den Boer, was paid way too much.
The latest available IRS filings show Den Boer made $316,640 in 2017, an amount that includes both his base pay and $65,000 for additional duties, such as leading the Y foundation’s private fundraising, according to tax records. His compensation totaled more than 10% of the YMCA’s $2.6 million operating budget, making him an outlier among other leaders of area nonprofit organizations.
Bolson will make $125,000, excluding health benefits or “performance-based” bonuses she might earn. She is making closer to what Den Boer should have been paid. Her pay is in line with the national average for Y leadership and more appropriate for the Y’s budget size.
In other words, if a man had been picked to replace Den Boer, he likely would be making Bolson’s salary. At least, we would hope so.
The YMCA Board of Directors made multiple mistakes with Den Boer, starting with his hiring. For years, Den Boer appeared to have his way with the board, and some board members seemed not to care. They neglected to provide proper oversight, which likely explains how Den Boer’s pay ended up consuming more than 10% of the Y’s budget.
Den Boer eventually went too far, upsetting influential Janesville residents, and a group of Y members began threatening legal action. This group argued Den Boer improperly ousted board members and suspended Y memberships. It was a dysfunctional situation, and the months-long drama ended with Den Boer’s exit in February.
Meanwhile, the board of directors began to reflect on its own failings. It appointed a new president, Steve Yeko Jr., and gave seats to some of the people who had complained about Den Boer’s leadership.
Bolson became the interim leader and immediately set out to implement “best practices” with the board and staff.
The YMCA Board of Directors has reformed itself, and it’s in this context that we must judge Bolson’s pay.
Bolson’s pay says less about her gender than it does the YMCA’s policies and practices under Den Boer.
Bolson is probably less than thrilled to have her pay broadcast by The Gazette, but that’s what happens when the community gets in an uproar over one of its leaders. The good news is that the Y is headed in the right direction under Bolson and working quickly to put the Den Boer era behind it.