Observer publisher resigns board seat

Charlotte Observer publisher Ann Caulkins resigned from the United Way board Thursday, saying she is in an “awkward position” and could no longer effectively serve because of the controversy surrounding former president Gloria Pace King's pay.

Caulkins has recused herself from board discussion of King's compensation since June, when the Observer and its news partner WCNC-TV reported King received a pay and retirement package worth more than $1.2 million last year.

Her pay included more than $822,000 in retirement benefits, a seven-fold increase over the previous year's contribution. The board has since said the payment was a mistake but hasn't provided details about how and why it was made.

Caulkins said she remains a passionate supporter of the agency. But as a board member, she said, she has been “dissatisfied” by the lack of answers. She urged the United Way of Central Carolinas board to provide details for how King's retirement was determined.

Caulkins, who joined the board in summer of 2006, was not a member of the executive committee or the compensation committee, which voted on King's compensation.

The board apologized for King's pay Tuesday and said it had asked her to resign. She was relieved of her duties the next day.

No other board members have resigned.

“This is a really, really rough situation,” said Caulkins.

She said she admires how the agency vets nonprofits and ensures they use donor money effectively. She said she will support the current campaign and that the Observer will participate in it.

A member of the group of donors giving $10,000 or more, Caulkins said she turned in her United Way pledge Wednesday.

She hopes to rejoin the board once the confusion has been settled.

“I'm confident (the board) will be rebuilt,” she said.