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ISC leader’s salary revealed

Two weeks after two representatives of the International Storytelling Center refused to disclose the salary of the newly hired ISC Executive Director Kiran Singh Sirah, ISC Board Chair Bill Kennedy contacted the Herald & Tribune on Sept. 12 to provide the information.
The new ISC executive director’s salary is $65,000 per year, according to Kennedy.
The Herald & Tribune asked both Sirah and Kennedy for the information for a story that ran in the Aug. 27 edition of the newspaper. Both refused to provide it.
During an interview, Sirah declined to share his salary, saying he didn’t feel he should provide that information and making his salary public might prove detrimental to his mission of community building.
Kennedy was then called and asked to provide the information. He also refused, saying he didn’t want “people in the general public helping us decide what we should or shouldn’t be paying.”
“We kept the salary open during the search because we wanted to identify the right candidate,” Kennedy told the newspaper at the time. “I will tell you that his salary is comparable to other nonprofits of similar size and with similar responsibilities across the U.S. We checked on that as we made our decision.”
Following an ISC board strategic planning meeting last week, Kennedy apparently changed his mind about not sharing the information and called the newspaper to say he was glad to provide it.
“We aren’t trying to hide anything and we want to build a good relationship with your newspaper and with this community,” Kennedy said.
Just the day before, however, Sirah remained adamantly opposed to sharing his salary.
In a series of emails sent to the Herald & Tribune, Sirah demands an apology and a “retraction” of an editorial published on Sept. 10 that blasts Kennedy and the ISC for not sharing the information, which is public.
In the emails, Sirah explains he doesn’t want his pay “to be the focus of discussions or gossip but instead real opportunities as we embark on a brand new chapter.”
“Should people want to look it up when we file (with the IRS), that is up to them,” he added. “This sort of news is not helpful to any of us that are trying to build something very important for our collective future.”
The ISC’s troubled financial past provided a catalyst for the request. The organization went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of 2010 and emerged from that situation in mid-2012.
Its status as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization requires all of its financial filings to the IRS be made public, including the salary of its director.
The ISC will be operating on a budget of $1.25 million this year, according to Kennedy, and its financial future will be carefully managed going forward.
“We came pretty close to losing the whole thing,” Kennedy said. “We are working very hard to make sure it never happens again.”