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New names among CEOs earning the biggest paychecks

Salary increases for top executives did not reach peaks of previous years but still climbed as a result of bonuses and SERP payouts

Feb. 5, 2021
By Walt Williams

Large bonuses continued to drive up the compensation of the highest-paid association CEOs, although not at the rates seen in recent years.

The median combined base and bonus increase for the 25 highest-paid CEOs was 4.3%, according to the latest tax disclosures for fiscal years ending in 2019 and early 2020. That is a drop from a 7.1% increase the previous year, and down from 6.6% and 5% the two years before that.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue topped the list with nearly $6.7 million in take-home pay, most of it coming from a $5.5 million bonus. CEOs needed to earn more than $2.2 million to make the top 25. 

That threshold number, and who makes the list, could change as more data becomes available. Disclosures were not yet available at CEO Update’s publication deadline for several groups that paid their CEOs more than $2 million in previous years, including American Gas Association, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and NACS—The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.