By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 4, 2006
Former American Red Cross chief executive Marsha J. Evans received a severance package valued at about $780,000 after she was ousted from the organization in December, according to documents released yesterday by the Red Cross.
Evans, who had served since 2002, received 18 months' severance and a $36,495 unpaid bonus when she quit after months of a steadily deteriorating relationship with the organization's governing board, according to a detailed timetable assembled by the Red Cross for the Senate Finance Committee, which is investigating the $4 billion charity.
In July 2005, according to the timetable, Board Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter told Evans that the board's executive committee was unhappy with her communication and collaboration with the 50-member Board of Governors and that the board believed she needed to change her "command-and-control" management style.
Evans pledged to improve, to involve the board earlier in more issues and to coach her management team to communicate more with the board.
But in early December, she and the board clashed again over her decision to remove several senior executives, and most of the board's 14-member Executive Committee decided that they had lost confidence in her leadership.
After that, Evans's downfall came fast, according to the timetable. On Dec. 5, Evans agreed to resign after meeting with Hunter and four other board members. On Dec. 9, the executive committee voted to accept her resignation. Three days later, 36 board members voted to accept Evans's resignation, and one voted against.
Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, which examines charities, said Evans's package is not unusual for a charity the size of the Red Cross, given that Evans did not leave under a cloud of controversy.
Bernadine Healy, who was chief executive of Red Cross from 1991 and was forced out in 2001 after clashing with the board, received a $1.9 million salary and severance package.
Evans did not return a phone message left at her home yesterday.
Yesterday's correspondence, as well as internal memos, e-mails and letters released this week by the Senate Finance Committee, reveal an organization racked with infighting and management turnover. In the past seven years, it has had five acting or permanent heads and has paid out about $2.8 million in severance, deferred compensation and bonuses to its former leaders -- beyond Evans -- according to Red Cross records.
Charles Connor, the Red Cross's senior vice president for communications and marketing, said that Evans's severance package was assembled "after extensive consultation with experts and outside consultants" on severance agreements for nonprofit organizations.