Business Executives Sign up to Lead Nonprofits

Nonprofits want the expertise of business executives, and many of them are signing up

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How Much Nonprofit Leaders Make

Here are agency incomes and the salaries for CEOs or presidents for some of Hawaii's major charities, most of them focused on social services. The figures are the latest available for each agency. The principal officers have since changed at some agencies. Compensation figures do not include nontaxable benefits because not all agencies report such benefits.


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From Board to Boss

     Dick Grimm
     Foodbank Executive Director

Nonprofits often discover that the best – and most committed – talent for top posts can be found right in front of them, on their own boards of directors.

That was the case for Neil Takekawa, who was a Japanese Cultural Center board member before he became COO. It was also true for Honolulu Star-Bulletin editor and publisher John Flanagan, who had served for years on the board of Aloha United Way before he jumped full time into the nonprofit sector.

"I was on an allocations committee and visited a lot of nonprofits and learned about their challenges," Flanagan says. "About the time I decided to leave the Star-Bulletin, a job opened at a nonprofit I'd done a lot of work with, Hawaii Community Services Council. The organization was going through a lot of changes and, with a lot of help from my board, I was able to reestablish HCSC as the Hawaii Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations."

Dick Grimm, former GM at KGMB TV and now head of the Hawaii Foodbank, has a similar story. Grimm had been on the Foodbank's board of directors for years while at KGMB, but, when he retired, he told friends, he was set to do nothing much more than play golf.

Linda Chu Takayama, chair of the board, had other ideas. "Dick announced his retirement about the same time we were losing the executive director of the Foodbank," she says. "So I asked Dick to come on board and temporarily run the Foodbank. I told him four weeks. He says I lied," she laughs.

"While I conducted a search, Dick would call me every day and he would be raving about how much he loved working there. So I told him, 'Why not throw your hat in the ring?' "

Grimm strongly believed in the Foodbank's mission, but he offered something else just as valuable – hardheaded business experience. "(Foodbank founder) John White had tremendous passion, but he wasn't a very good businessman," Grimm says.

If anything, cutbacks in government grants and "just-in-time" delivery by food distributors, which radically reduces their surplus food, has increased the need for smart management at the Foodbank, Grimm says.

"You have to have a black bottom line. You can have all the passion you want, but if you don't execute, it won't work."


Kim Gennaula: From News Anchor to Nonprofit Newsmaker

     Kim Gennaula

Kim Gennaula did not plan for her transition from the hectic world of TV news to the nonprofit sector. Originally, she simply volunteered to act as a public spokeswoman for the Kapiolani Health Foundation.

"I was looking for some cause I could be part of, and since both my kids were born at Kapiolani, it seemed a natural choice," she says.

Before long, the foundation asked if she wanted to go full-time as director of philanthropy. "You start wondering what the second act of your life is going to be and I discovered that telling their story was just so satisfying."

When she left TV to join Kapiolani, Gennaula says, she took a dramatic cut in pay. "But what I gained in personal happiness" was enormous, she says.

Gennaula had no plans to leave Kapiolani, but was intrigued when she was asked to apply for the top job at Aloha United Way.

"This is a lot heavier," she says of her new job. AUW needs to change and reestablish itself as a "top-tier" charity in the minds of local donors, Gennaula said.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has also appointed her to the school board, another important Hawaii institution in the midst of transformation.

"My challenge is to juggle AUW and the Board of Education, and still come home at 5 p.m. and make my kids think I never worked at all," she laughs.

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