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Thursday, March 23, 2017

How a few people in Rhode Island profit from non-profits.

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future

Rhode Island hospitals made seven people millionaires in 2014. Only one of them was a practicing physician, the other six were executives. All told, 11 Rhode Islanders earned more than a $1 million a year working for non-profits in 2014, according to a new analysis by the Wall Street Journal.

In addition to seven healthcare employees, the other four worked in academia – two in administration and two in athletics. 

This is roughly on par with what the WSJ found nationwide, reporting, “About three-fourths of the charities that provided million-dollar compensation packages in 2014 were involved in health care. About 10% were private colleges.”

The highest paid non-profit employee in Rhode Island in 2014 was Patricia Recupero, an esteemed lawyer and psychiatrist who ran Butler Hospital. Her base pay was a relatively austere $365,210 compared to her full compensation package of $2,767,231. Recupero retired in 2015, as did Constance Howes, the former chief executive at Women and Infants Hospital.

Tim Babineau, president of Lifespan, the non-profit corporation that manages Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s Hospital, was the second highest paid on the list, making more than $1 million in base pay and in excess of $2.4 million in total compensation. Three of the top six highest paid non-profit employees in 2014 were Lifespan executives.

Dr. Curtis Doberstein, a cerebrovascular surgeon that “specializes in surgery on the blood vessels of the brain, neck, and spinal column” is the only practicing physician on the list.
Providence College basketball coach Ed Cooley was third on the list, which reported he earned more than $2 million in 2014.

Brown University President Christine Paxson didn’t make the list. But her counterpart at Johnson & Wales University Chancelor John Bowen did. So did Brown’s chief investment officer, Joseph Dowling. He more than doubled his $570,307 salary to make more than $1.2 million in 2014.

Though it bears little resemblance to its precursor, the Big East, and has no Rhode Island team anymore, the ACC still calls Providence home. Michael Aresco, its commission, made $1.73 million in 2014.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “High pay at charities has drawn scrutiny from some lawmakers because the organizations receive substantial tax breaks for committing to public service. Charities receive federal tax benefits worth upward of $100 billion a year, according to the Congressional Research Service. That doesn’t count tens of billions of dollars in state and local subsidies.”

In Rhode Island, while hospital executives take home big pay checks, rand and file workers have for years suffered from stagnant wages and worsening work conditions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The Red Cross has one of the largest budgets among charities, about $2.9 billion, yet paid no one anywhere near $1 million in 2014. Its CEO earned $557,000.”

Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.