United Way fires King

Gloria Pace King, former president and CEO of United Way of Central Carolinas, was officially terminated Tuesday after failing to respond to demands that she either resign or be dismissed by the board of directors.

The United Way's board ousted King from her 14-year post about a month ago but officially gave her until Tuesday to resign. If she didn't, the board said, she'd be terminated.

Board members said they thought her ability to lead had been crippled by public outcry over her $2million pension package. The board's attorney, Russell Sizemore, said the board authorized her automatic termination without cause if she didn't respond by Tuesday.

“She hasn't resigned or submitted a notice of resignation,” Sizemore said. “She's terminated today.”

King's attorney, Bill Diehl, criticized United Way officials for their treatment of his client.

“I'm not surprised they fired her today,” Diehl said. “Ms. King will react in due course. … I feel like these people mistreated Ms. King. They got a black eye (over her pay). And they made the black eye worse.”

He said, however, that his client is doing OK.

“She's dealing with personal matters...,” he said. “She's not working. She still serves on a number of boards. She's keeping busy. She's doing fine.”

The board has agreed to pay out the remaining 21/3 years on her $290,000-a-year employment contract. But it has said it will not pay at least $1 million remaining on her controversial retirement contract. The board contends it has the right to cancel future payments under the contract.

Sizemore added that the sides also need to discuss the $822,000 payment already placed in trust pending King's retirement. The board has consultants analyzing the payments to see if they comply with Internal Revenue Service rules against excessive CEO pay. He expects their work to be finished in a matter of weeks.

Diehl has said the retirement contract was fair compensation for running a $45 million agency. He contends the United Way board's executive committee reviewed compensation at other United Ways around the country and other companies before King was given her retirement package in 2006.

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