Earlier this summer, Mac Everett was asked to comment on the controversy surrounding the pay and compensation of United Way CEO Gloria Pace King. He said he understood the communitywide criticism, “but I hope we can look beyond that to all the good the United Way does for our community.”
Everett, perhaps as early as today, will take a major role in trying to bring that about.
Sources told the Observer the retired Wachovia banker and longtime civic activist will be named as King's interim replacement.
Everett, 61, takes the helm from a woman he once supervised. The Macon, Ga., native was chairman of the United Way board in the early years of King's career in Charlotte. He said King helped strengthen the links between the United Way board and Charlotte's corporate community. But when asked if he gave credit to King for bringing more corporate involvement to the agency, he said, “I don't give credit because I don't give blame.” What's important, he said, is that more than one person made it happen.
Everett's own connections with the city's various civic efforts stretch back decades. He came to Charlotte in 1978. His 30-year Charlotte resume includes work with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the Arts and Science Council, the YMCA, the Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission. Everett is tournament chairman of the Wachovia Championship and was a recent chairman of the board of trustees at UNC Charlotte.
The controversy that engulfed King and her agency surfaced in June when the Observer and news partner News Channel36 began questioning King's pay. The board gave King more than $800,000 in retirement benefits last year, and promised her up to $500,000 in similar payments over each of the next three years.
The board explained the benefits as an effort to make up for missed payments to King from earlier years. But members declined to answer questions about how they settled on the pay package.
An Observer analysis of United Way pay around the country found King at or near the top of every category – bonuses, salary, expense accounts and retirement.
Meanwhile, community anger at the board's use of donor contributions threatens the success of the United Way's annual campaign.
At some point, King's relationship with the board she helped build soured, and she hired prominent Charlotte defense attorney Bill Diehl.
Diehl said he is negotiating with the board's attorney for a solution. King signed a three-year contract in January.
Over recent days, board leaders have sent out signals that they were working to address public concerns. It's not clear how long Everett will serve, but the board hopes he can restore public trust.
Carol Hardison, director of Crisis Assistance Ministry, said Monday night that she had not heard of Everett's appointment, but added:
“I respect Mac immensely, (for) what he has done for the community and what he continues to do. If what you're saying is true, then it underscores the importance of the human services needs.”
In his comments earlier this summer, Everett sounded a similar theme.
Someone has to know community needs and raise the money to meet them, he said.
Not surprisingly, he cited the United Way.