Editors' Note: Guest blogger Heather Cronk is the Managing Director of GetEQUAL.
Hey there, Bilerico readers. After reading through Bil's post this morning, I asked him if I could write a response to clarify a few things and to offer up a counter-narrative from a different perspective. I've elected to pull out a few pieces from Bil's post to respond to directly. Though I wouldn't usually spend this much time away from what I consider "the work," I felt it important to clarify a few things and to correct others.
In the interest of full disclosure, I consider Bil a friend and am glad that he and others are pushing for more transparency within the LGBT movement -- including GetEQUAL. So it's in that spirit that I wanted to engage both him and you in a conversation. So here goes!
"I'm starting to feel as if I've been sold a bill of goods; I wanted orange juice but got Tang. Instead of a radically different, transparent and community-focused direct action organization, I got HRC Lite (now with more action!)."
I'm glad that Bil didn't beat around the bush! I'm not sure exactly what Bil or others expected to see in the first three months that GetEQUAL has been in existence -- but I don't think anyone promised a three-month revolution. (And, for the record, I have very fond memories of drinking Tang early in the morning with my grandfather in Texas before my grandmother could catch us -- it shouldn't be underestimated as a refreshing beverage!) GetEQUAL is still in start-up mode -- we're getting our sea legs and creating a strategy for effective action. The onslaught of an unpredictable LGBT direct action outfit is the best blessing that the movement could ask for -- while HRC is in White House meetings, GetEQUAL hands them a "radical, unpredictable left" that can take the blame for crazy shenanigans while the moderate and reasonable orgs sit nicely at the table and negotiate. Whoever said that there can be only one effective approach to social change just wasn't imaginative or strategic enough.
"As the Managing Director, it can be assumed that [Cronk] will be making more than McGehee and Williams."
This is news to me. If I'm supposed to be making more than Robin and Kip, then I wasn't aware of the conversation -- and shame on Bil for "assuming" this is the case. I will earn $70,000 a year at GetEQUAL and have yet to even come on board full-time...I'm still transitioning out of my former position and into my new one. This is just slightly more than I was making previously, with a good deal more responsibility for strategy -- the financial and management responsibilities are similar. Living in the DC area with a mortgage means that this isn't remotely exorbitant.
And, regarding Kip and Robin's salaries, it seems like we need to clear the air a bit. Robin is earning $89,000 a year at GetEQUAL -- exactly the same as she was making as a college professor with advanced education under her belt and two children to support. Kip is earning $72,000 a year, slightly more than he was previously at Radical Designs, but is taking on significantly more responsibility as the co-director of a national organization.
Say what you will about the numbers, but GetEQUAL believes that investing in organizers and in leaders will have tremendous dividends at the end of the day. Nonprofits have, for too long, gotten away with not paying fairly for good work. Folks might differ with me on that philosophy, but we'll just have to agree to disagree.
We will be gathering the staff together in June for a staff retreat, and will be setting benchmarks then -- all three of us, and our other two staff members, will all be responsible for hitting those benchmarks over the course of the next year.
"Three Director level salaries at $90,000 per year is $270,000. If we assign $50,000 each to the advance and logisitics [sic] team members, that's another $100,000. Grand total for salaries for the year? $370,000. Lewis' check for a quarter of a million dollars won't cover the payroll costs for GetEqual this year."
All of these numbers are wrong -- we're looking at closer to $300k, depending on whether other staff salaries remain the same and/or whether we hire on additional staff. While I don't feel at liberty to give a grand total until we file paperwork and a report at the end of the year, the only thing that Bil has right is that we will be doing more fundraising this year in order to cover the costs of organizers, events, actions, trainings, etc. While we have not yet asked for a dime from our supporters or from new funders, we will do so after our staff retreat when we can show work plans and benchmarks -- and not a second before. We are not spending money on tchotchkes -- we're spending resources on organizers and on the things that will help those organizers organize. I don't know when that became a bad thing.
We've also spent less than $140k to date -- I wouldn't draw causality between some of the minimal progress our community has seen lately and GetEQUAL's work, but I think you could certainly draw correlation. And that's a bargain, in my humble opinion.
"Most organizations are ruled by their boards - usually individuals who have donated large sums of money to the group and want a voice in guiding how the org moves forward. The motivations behind organizational decisions aren't always what's best for the community as much as what's best for the board member."
This is actually offensive. Given that Bil has no knowledge of who has been invited to join the board or who we are planning to invite to join the board, everything that follows this paragraph is irresponsible speculation. And I can't wait to see Bil's post on GetEQUAL's accountability to donors, the (not-yet-formed) board, or the community from which we have not raised a dime. We're not holding back the names of board members -- they're simply just not confirmed yet. We're happy to make those names public once they're finalized.
It is true that GetEQUAL is in the process of applying for tax-exempt status -- and with that status comes a demand for accountability. Even if we weren't applying for that status, I think all of the staff would agree that we owe that to the LGBT community and to our allies who support our work. We will certainly continue to answer questions when asked and to offer information when available -- and, more than that, we look forward to engaging folks in actions that will target pressure points and create openings for real social change.
We hope you will join us.