How Much Do They Earn? Salaries of Nonprofit Mental Health Leaders

This is the time of year when envelopes arrive in the mail from charities asking for donations. Before I contribute to charities, I like to learn how much their  top executives are earning.

According to the website, Charity Navigator, the median salary for the chief executive of a charity is $132,739.  Executives in major cities are paid more. CEOs in the Northeast earn an average of $156,914. Keeping those figures in mind, I decided to check the pay scale at mental health groups that are well-known or often mentioned in news stories.

I was surprised at how much some mental health executives were paying themselves, especially when their charities were losing money. me.

HIGHER THAN AVERAGE:  The quarter of a million club

NARSAD, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, based in Great Neck, New York, pays its leadership the highest annual salary of the charities that I checked.  According to its most recent federal tax filing, NARSAD had revenues of $18.2 million and expenses of $19.6 million.  Benita Shobe, its president and CEO, collected $299,695 in salary and $10,770 in additional benefits. That gives her $310,465. The next two highest paid executives, Louis Innamorato, and Greg Corsico, pulled in $184,556 in pay and $28,583 in benefits, and $136,655 in pay and $19,434 in benefits, respectively.

Coming in second in top salaries is The Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law,  based in Washington D.C., which brought in revenues of $4.9 million and spent $3.3 million. It paid Robert E. Bernstein, its president and CEO, a salary of $257,472 and an additional $31,440 in benefits.  That package gave him $288,912. After him, Ira A. Burnim, legal director, earned $156,474 in salary and $18,982 in benefits. Next was Christine Koyanagi, policy director, at $157,236 in salary and $18,982 in benefits.

Next up is Fountain House, a clubhouse program in New York, which pays its president, Kenneth J. Dudek, $250,989 in salary and $40,840 in benefits. Total package:  $291,829.  Jeffrey Aron, director of development, earned $162,823 in pay and $28,133 in benefits, followed by Lisa Tai, controller, who was paid $157,607 in salary and $21,521 in benefits. Fountain House had revenues of $17.1 million and expenses of $17.3 million.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, the largest grassroots mental health organization, had revenues of $9.4 million and spent $10.8 million according to its tax forms. It’s executive director, Michael Fitzpatrick, collected a salary of $212,671 and additional benefits of $21,764. Total package: $234,435. The next highest paid NAMI employee was Deborah Borton, COO, who earned $139,874 in salary and $6,349 in benefits. Following her was Charles Harman, director of external relations, with $136,800 in pay and $22,340 in benefits.

Mental Health America, the largest consumer organization, pulled in $2.8 million in revenues, yet it spent $4.1 in expenses. It paid David Shern last year a salary of $214,025 with $7,051 in benefits. Total: $221,076. The next highest paid were Michael Turner, VP development, who earned $145,000 and $5,326 in benefits, and Kathleen Gaston, affiliate director, who earned $107,748 in salary and $7,221 in benefits.


The Treatment Advocacy Center based in Arlington reported revenues of approximately $1 million and expenses of $1 million. It’s executive director at the time of the tax filing, James Pavle, earned $116,310 in salary and $15,469 in benefits. Total: $131,779. Deputy director Rosanna Esposito, earned $93,936 in salary and $5,722 in benefits and E. Fuller Torrey, earned $52,076 with $6,030 in benefits.

The Chicago based Depression and Support Alliance took in revenues of $1.3 million and spent $1.2 million. It’s president, Allen Doederlein was paid $93,809 in salary and $21,637 in benefits. Total: $115,446. He was followed by Cindy Specht, a VP, who collected $85,987 in pay and $10,251 in benefits.

The National Empowerment Center based in Lawrence, Mass., collected about $1 million and spent about the same. It’s director, Daniel Fisher, was paid, $89,632 and $590 in benefits. Total: $90,222. No other salaries were listed.

Mind Freedom International, the Eugene, Oregon, consumer/survivor group run by David Oaks, took in $90,048 in revenues and paid out $62,359 in expenses. Oaks was paid $29,222 in salary and $1,500 in benefits. Total: $30,722.

At the very bottom of my short list was Bring Change 2 Mind, the anti-stigma group started by actress Glenn Close and the Staglin family. It took in $88,380 and spent $69,090. It paid no salaries to its executives: Glenn Close, Kenn Dudek, and Garen Staglin.

Another major player in the mental health world is The Carter Center, which is the umbrella organization for all of the nonprofit causes that former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter support. The Center took in revenues of $81.3 million and spent $75.2 million. Obviously, that was for all of its different charities. The director of its mental health charity, Thomas H. Bornemann was paid $145,793 in salary and $14,438 in benefits. Total: $160,231. That put him above the national average,.

There are many other worthwhile charities across the country. You can find out how much they are paying their executives by visiting Guidestar, a free service. If you have a charity that you want to list here, please share it along with your comments. (I tried to list the top three highest paid executives in my check.)

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. Maryb Gentner1 says

    There was a time when doctors took no profit in treating the sick. The shamans and healers of old were often ridiculed, feared at best. A true healer demands no payment. The blessed joy of alleviating suffering is enough. Those days are gone and making money off the sick is no longer seen as the heinious immoral act that it is. When it comes to mental illness, greed by way of capitalizing on the issues related to it, is within itself a mental illness – an abberant emotional indulgence. Unbalanced people with sinful or immoral purposeful thought processes, like greed and hatred, have sicknesses of the heart and mind. They are mentally ill by their own refusal to be fairminded, loving, moral beings. To profit from another’s suffering is a sick sadism for which I believe their is no justification. I have to believe that those who engage in it do so to the destruction of their souls.