By Maria DiBari President Tri-County Crisis Center
November 14, 2011
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) brings in millions each year to educate and assist various coalitions that serve domestic violence victims, provide trainings to agencies and coalitions, provides technical assistance to agencies, and provides assistance to survivors on how to improve their financial lives.
As a victim service provider, I can’t recall one victim or survivor that was offered assistance from the NNEDV. In 2008, I, too, reached out as a victim in need of resources and assistance and I was turned away. Although this agency does not provide direct services to victims, they receive a large amount of funding from corporations and grant donors such as Mary Kay, Allstate and Phillip Morris.
As one victims states “ I reached out to NNEDV in 2006 spoke with Cindy Southworth executive Director of the Safety Net Project which is supposed to be for victims of stalking and cyberstalking. She spoke with me by phone and never followed-up. I have emailed Valenda Applegarth repeatedly in 2011 and prior years- no response from her and she is the liaison for Social Security Administration and employed by NNEDV”.
As a center that functions as lead training facility for the Coalitions, the NNEDV should understand that the most vital services needed for victims across the US is quick access to emergency funds and direct services. Currently, it is nearly impossible to obtain emergency funds or direct services through any agency, and that places many victims at a disadvantage when trying to escape, relocate, seek medical attention and surgeries, and protect themselves and their children. Many have died trying to receive assistance from agencies that have not been able to properly assist and provide this critical service.
Sue Else, President of the NNEDV states that programs around the country are struggling to provide life-saving services to victims (February 3, 2011). According to a Union staff writer, Pam Wilson, Else continues to mention “The economy is exacerbating domestic violence, and victim advocates across the country are struggling to do more with less”. Is that really the reason for why many victims cannot get help? Are programs struggling? The Tri-County Crisis Center team researched the NNEDV and analyzed their tax returns from the last several years. Sue Else doesn’t seem to be struggling at all, earning a six figure salary and benefits. As President, she has profited immensely in the last few years, bringing in nearly one million dollars in salary while her victims fund, Amy’s Courage Fund, remains closed to victims due to a fund depletion because of ‘high demand’. Fortunately, in 2009 Amy’s Courage Fund helped 139 victims and $264,856 was paid out. In the same year, Sue made over $270,000-her salary totaling more than the entire victims fund. In 2008, Form 990 lists Sue Else’s compensation as $267,870 and also lists the ‘estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and other related organizations of $181,667, for a grand total of $449,537.
“Knowing that there are six figure salaries being paid to individuals within the NNEDV that do not provide direct support to victims is troubling, especially knowing that they repeatedly respond to victims’ pleas for help indicating that they cannot help because of lack of funding and resources. Clearly, money is not the issue, allocation and appropriation is.” Alexis Moore, DV survivor ignored by NNEDV.
As many grass roots organization suffer without funding, while also providing direct victim services, many of the well-established organizations continue to rake in profits from sponsors and government grants every year.
“In the past few years, many domestic violence service providers have lost funding and watched charitable giving decline due to the economic downturn, yet somehow one individual at the NNEDV has managed to personally profit close to one million dollars in a three year time span. Donors give to the NNEDV and expect that their contributions are used wisely and for the benefit of victims of domestic violence victims. Instead, many victims are turned away and left behind by the ‘go-to’ organizations like the NNEDV, while their board members continue to collect their inflated salaries. This is a perfect example of the need for Domestic Violence Reform and an Oversight Committee. The NNEDV is a big organization that shapes much about how the DV system operates and this does not set a good example.” states Jodie SanJuan, Executive Director of the Economic Abuse Recovery Center.
Not only do grossly high salaries paid to non-profit directors not set a good example, it is crippling to the smaller non-profits that volunteer many hours eradicating domestic violence. Major donors like Mary Kay and Allstate Foundation often overlook the work being done by grass roots groups and continue to unintentionally fund large executive salaries instead. Tri-County Crisis Center, Inc. could provide services to the entire Northeastern region with Ms. Else’s salary.