Pay Tops $1 Million For Seven on Highest-paid Nonprofit Employees List

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Jun. 16, 2014 12:00 am  

Moving from the public sector to the nonprofit sector has been financially rewarding for Dr. Ali F. Krisht.

The neurosurgeon working for the St. Vincent Health System in Little Rock ranks No. 1 on this week’s list of the highest-paid nonprofit employees in Arkansas with total compensation exceeding $1.3 million in the fiscal year that ended in mid-2012, the most recent data available.

In fact, he’s one of seven nonprofit employees in Arkansas who earned more than $1 million in the 2012 tax year. All of them are either medical doctors or hospital administrators, as are the vast majority of the 262 nonprofit employees whose compensation exceeding $215,000 is reported in this issue.

A close second on the list is Dr. Amr El-Shafeil, a physician with Mercy Health in Rogers whose compensation also topped $1.3 million in 2012.

No. 3 also works for Mercy: Kim Day, who spent 2013 as interim administrator of the Mercy Hospital in Hot Springs, which was subsequently sold to St. Vincent. Day, who is a regional administrator for the Missouri-based Mercy health care system, was paid $1.27 million.

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The most highly paid nonprofit employee who does not work in the health care industry is No. 24 Nicholas Brown, president and CEO of Southwest Power Pool of Little Rock. The regional electricity transmission organization paid Brown $755,469 in 2012. Another 20 SPP employees were paid at least $200,000 that year.

Krisht was overlooked when Arkansas Business introduced the nonprofit salaries list last year, when he should have ranked No. 3 with a compensation of $883,568 in fiscal 2011. But the next year he got a raise in his disclosed base compensation of almost $160,000, plus incentive pay of almost $270,000 and a smattering of other income that was disclosed in a tax form filed by St. Vincent Medical Group.

Krisht was being paid about $550,000 when he left the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2009, according to data that Arkansas Business collected at the time.

List Methodology

Nonprofit organizations — essentially businesses with no shareholders that are engaged in a mission for the public benefit — are exempt from federal income taxes. In exchange for that advantage, the organizations are required to file annual financial reports with the Internal Revenue Service.

Such a report is known as an IRS Form 990, although there are variations in the form depending on the nonprofits’ total revenue and purpose. Unlike individual income tax returns, the 990s are public documents.

The 990s include revenue, expenditures, assets, investments and, most important for this week’s list, compensation paid to directors, trustees, officers and key employees. They must include the compensation of the five highest-paid employees who are paid more than $100,000 a year.

Compensation for nonprofit employees is gently regulated by the IRS, which requires only that nonprofits pay executives “fair and reasonable compensation,” according to a 2011 white paper by GuideStar, a nonprofit organization that compiles nonprofit financial reports and makes them available online.

Arkansas Business has long reported publicly available salary information — in lists of the highest-paid state employees, executive officers and directors of publicly traded companies headquartered in Arkansas, electric and gas utilities, public school superintendents, nonprofit hospitals and the largest nonprofit organizations.

The 990s used in this week’s list were the most recent available from GuideStar’s website.

The fiscal years researched ended between March 30, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2013, and are noted in each entry on the list. Because the data is between nine and 27 months old, some of the individuals may no longer be employed by the nonprofit listed or may not have the same title. When Arkansas Business was aware of a change or departure, it was noted.

GuideStar’s database includes more than 20,000 nonprofits in Arkansas. Almost 15,000 of those had annual revenue of less than $100,000 and were not included in Arkansas Business’ research. The 990s of more than 100 nonprofits were researched, including all that had annual revenue of $2 million. With the deliberate exception of electric cooperative executives whose salaries have long been reported in the utility lists, we believe we have captured most of the nonprofit employees who received compensation packages of $215,000 or more during those recent fiscal years, but some smaller organizations paying relatively large salaries may have been overlooked. (Omissions or errors should be reported to Editor Gwen Moritz at

The list is ranked by total compensation, which then is broken out into salary and “other compensation.”

An expanded list of 294 names, including those with salaries of $200,000 or more, is available for purchase in spreadsheet form on



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