9/11 Museum Bigs Cash In


Kids' small donations pay for inflated salaries
January 23, 2011

Schoolchildren thought their penny jars and bake-sale proceeds would go toward building a 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero -- not the six-figure salaries of nonprofit execs. But 11 staffers at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum each pulled down more than $170,000 in total compensation in 2009, according to the most recent filings. Four execs took home more than $320,000.

Foundation President Joseph Daniels, 38, pocketed $371,307 after receiving hefty raises three years in a row -- 28 percent in 2006, when he was promoted from acting president, followed by 12 percent and 6 percent.

Museum director Alice Greenwald made $351,000, and capital planning Vice President Joan Gerner soaked up $337,143 before leaving last spring. Development director Cathy Blaney raked in $322,292. The full-time foundation employee also worked last year as a fund-raiser for Gov. Cuomo's election campaign.

The money to pay the $5.3 million in compensation for the foundation's 87 staffers in 2009 came from private donations -- $220 million raised in a Herculean grass-roots effort to honor the 2,974 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and $150 million from blue-ribbon board members. More than 60,000 individuals in all 50 states and 31 countries donated to the cause.

The rest of the foundation's money -- about $330 million in tax funds from the state and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. -- is earmarked for construction of the $610 million project.

Donors ranged from Ohio high-school students who raised $14,000 by completing a 650-mile trek from their Toledo suburb to Ground Zero, to pupils at Bethpage HS in New Jersey who collected $746 in pennies.

Teacher Shawn Clincy of the Mary Volz School in Runnemede, NJ, whose middle-school students raised $1,000 knocking on doors, was shocked by the salaries. "They're taking money from 13-year-olds who went out and collected donations. That doesn't sit right with me," he said.

Michael Burke, whose firefighter brother, William, was killed in the attacks, questioned the generous pay: "These guys are making a fortune -- it seems extravagant."

Sandra Miniutti, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator, said the salaries were "on the high side for a comparable-sized organization." The average base salary for a CEO of a mid-size foundation like the memorial is about $160,000, and second-tier managers usually make much less, she said.

The memorial and museum is being built on 10 acres at Ground Zero, featuring two large reflecting pools with manmade waterfalls set within the footprints of the Twin Towers.

Originally scheduled to open in 2009, the memorial designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker will be unveiled two years late, on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The museum is expected to open in 2012, also two years late.

The underground 100,000-

square-foot museum will exhibit the iconic "survivor stairs" and "last column" and donated artifacts from the site and victims' families.

The foundation defended the salaries disclosed in IRS tax filings reviewed by The Post.

"We're setting up a venue that will be the highest drawing venue in New York City," said board member Tom Roger, who lost his daughter on 9/11. "You don't bring in your typical, well-meaning nonprofit person off the street to get that done. Once it's opened and operational, the salary structure will . . . come back down."

Foundation officials pointed to the compensation package of $456,558 earned by the head of the American Cancer Society's Eastern Division, which has similar annual revenue of $96 million.

Mayor Bloomberg, board chairman, said, "They're paid only a fraction of what they're worth, but at a level similar to people at comparable nonprofits."

High-priced execs

Highest earners at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum (2009 total compensation):

* Joe Daniels, President: $371,307

* Alice Greenwald, Executive VP for Programs: $351,100

* Joan Gerner, Executive VP, Capital Planning (Left in Spring 2010): $337,143

* Cathy Blaney, Executive VP, Development: $322,292

* David Langford, CFO: $224,113

* Luis Mendes, VP Design and Construction: $221,429

* Lynn Rasic, Senior VP, Public Affairs: $214,270

* Noelle Lillien, General Counsel: $193,316

* Suany Chough, Senior Adviser, Design Construction and Planning: $190,831

* Allison Bailey, Chief of Staff to President: $171,417