American Academy of Arts & Sciences

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American Academy of Arts & Sciences Reviews

American Academy of Arts & Sciences – Cambridge – “American Academy of Arts & Sciences”

All Employees Current Employees Only

1.4 13 reviews

20% Approve of the CEO

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Leslie Berlowitz

(10 ratings)

17% of employees recommend this company to a friend
13 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    Prefer not to say

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsThe Academy and staff were wonderful when I was there. The Academy was a closely-knit collection of staffers with an amazingly high degree of dedication to the mission. Benefits were good when I was there. 4 weeks vacation to start and a generous employer contribution to 401k - get this: 15% But that was then (pre-1996) - I can't say about now.

    ConsExecutive Officer = primary "Con." Condescending, Convoluted, Condemning, Contemptuous, Controlling, Congenial - no wait, how did that get in there? And now, with the current news of falsified degrees, I guess "CON" itself may be applicable.

    I lasted about 8 months after that leadership change and I feel I deserved a medal. I don't know how others have been able to last at all. I knew I had skills that were very marketable and appreciated and that I did not have to put up with the abuse. Maybe others were not as fortunate. I and many of my colleagues worked hard - even after the current CEO "took over," but it, to me, was wasted energy. I had better stop here - but there is much more unpleasantness about that place than there is of the good stuff. It used to be very family-like before the institution was handed over to Miss Hannigan.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSearch Committee for a new CEO. Optionally, form and active board of overseers who can meet monthly and advice accordingly. The one person in control (now president and CEO) is an insult to the long history of The Academy. Make a major change in CEO and/or change the reporting structure. And I ask myself: does she have an annual performance review like everyone else? Or has she managed to side-step that, too?

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    At the far end of the dysfunctional/abuse spectrum

    Executive Assistant (Former Employee) Cambridge, MA

    ProsGreat staff, beautiful building, wonderful mission, serving an extraordinary group of Fellows.

    ConsThe Executive Officer for the past 17 years is a highly disorganized individual, who makes up for this by verbally abusing the people who work for her. The turnover rate is astronomical, and that has everything to do with senior management. This organization has such promise, but isn't able to live up to the potential of the educated, hard-working employees because so much energy is invested in recruiting, hiring, training and firing staff. Creativity is non-existent; people are afraid to say anything in staff meetings. It is unfortunate in the extreme that the board has allowed this dysfunction to continue for so long.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThe current board needs to be replaced and a serious search initiated to replace the outgoing Exec. Officer. Some PTSD counseling may be in order for the remaining staff.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    Great organization

    Manager (Current Employee) Cambridge, MA

    ProsThe Academy is an august institution whose former and current members include the brightest lights from the past 200-plus years in academia, art, business, public affairs and science. Under the current leadership, the Academy has grown tremendously. By all measures, it’s a success and a great place to work. The Academy demands excellence in its selection of members. It demands excellence in the studies it undertakes. And, it demands excellence from its staff. There are wonderful colleagues who work hard to uphold the standards and traditions of an organization whose members have shaped our country and our culture. I have found the Academy to be a career-making and life-changing experience.

    ConsLike most nonprofit organizations, the Academy strives to make significant impact with limited resource. With additional funding, the organization could do even more.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    What a disgrace

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsIntelligent people trying to collaborate on initiatives with academic and social policy significance. Access to thought leaders from around the world.

    ConsI can only add to the chorus of negative feedback regarding the Academy leadership, and in particular the CEO. How such a totally unacceptable situation has been allowed to persist for so many years is unfathomable. And unforgivable. I personally experience visceral disgust whenever I pass the Academy grounds. I am a successful survivor of the Norton Woods gulag, and I take very seriously the moral import of the words I am using in this review. The nightmarish interhuman reality at the Academy is directly attributable to the culture of intimidation and belittlement that the CEO narcissistically perpetuates in the name of high standards and commitment to the mission. It's sad and infuriating to think of all the talent, time, resources, and potential that so many smart people have wasted on behalf of this organization.

    Advice to Senior ManagementForcibly retire the current leadership ASAP and engage in extensive reflection on what a truly honorable institution worthy of its history, value, and promise would need to do in order to redeem this inglorious chapter.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    A small, but outstanding institution that is making tangible contributions through its work.

    Senior Management (Current Employee)

    ProsIf you have the opportunity to be part of the team here you will work with exceptional people and be part of all that is being accomplished. Certainly a place that demands your best. Building an institution and a record of achiement like that at the Academy involves struggles and hard work.

    ConsBeing effective at the Academy requires a level of commitment that not everyone can or will give - hence the kind of negative comments posted on this site by a few who left of one reason or another. Why wouldn't you just move on instead of disparaging an institution, its leadership, and all of the staff who remain? These people seem to have forgotten that the Academy gave each and every one of them opportunites.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    2 people found this helpful  

    mean place

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    Prosarchitecture of the building, location, serenity of grounds, potential for consideration of issues of real significance with high caliber minds.

    Consthe "leader" is dreadful and establishes a climate of fear.

    Advice to Senior ManagementBerlowitz has charmed a blinded, aging leadership. Try a confidential 360 degree review process and see what you will find out from those who know her best.

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    3 people found this helpful  

    Former Fellow recommends -- stay away, either as an employee or a fellow

    Research Fellow (Former Employee) Cambridge, MA

    ProsThe American Academy has a proud and important tradition, and in best of times it serves as an gathering place for remarkable and innovative scholars, artists, and activists.

    ConsI personally witnessed -- on a nearly daily basis -- the president of the Academy belittle and degrade staff. I have personally seen people break down after interactions with senior leadership. I was insulated from insults because I have a PhD and could leave at any time, though I felt deeply sorry for what the staff went through. Just before I left, the President of the Academy built a wall so that she she would have complete privacy, and it struck me that she had walled herself off from the rest of the organization in more than physical ways. In the year that I was there, more than 40% of the staff turned over. I study organizations, and this was the most dysfunctional organization I have ever witnessed. It is just so deeply deeply sad.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTo the Board: please step in and do a thorough review. The current board has been hand-chosen by the President, and that's a shame. To the Staff: consider legal options.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    4 people found this helpful  

    The stuff that nervous breakdowns are made of...

    Coordinator (Former Employee)

    ProsThe Academy is an esteemed organization channeling the powers of brilliant minds all over the world to work for the public good. That I was able to work with such individuals was truly an honor. The professional staff, when not beaten down, is superb. They work very hard and accomplish a great deal, despite minimal resources and little incentive. I loved my job at the Academy and would have made it a career position had it not been for the details written below.

    ConsThe Executive Director/President has instilled a culture of fear and abuse that filters throughout the organization in every way. Every element of your job is micromanaged and criticized and deflecting blame is the name of the game - if only to avoid having to deal with the "corner office". It is truly the most degrading and horrifying experience that I have ever had. Almost daily, I watched my colleagues (and sometimes myself) reduced to tears by the furious (and completely irrational) tirades of the Executive Director. After my first month (!) I kept a list of the employee turnover rate - in the 2.5 years I was employed at the Academy, more than 100 employees came and went. With a full time staff of approximately 30 people, I'd say that speaks volumes. In addition to the poisonous, ulcer-inducing environment, there is zero work/life balance, mediocre benefits, no professional development (at the very least, some management training would not go amiss!) and no flexibility. I could go on and on, providing numerous examples of the toxic culture, each more horrific than the last, but it is almost unbelievable if you haven't experienced it. Let's just say that after 2.5 long, stressful years I quit without a backup - it was that bad. I just couldn't subject myself to that cruel environment any more.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThe Management of this organization needs a complete overhaul, starting from the top down. Unfortunately, despite many efforts by staff (who live in fear of retribution) to reach out to the Board and the membership, little has been done to stop what can only result in a downward karmic spiral. It is only a matter a time before she brings shame (if not severe legal and financial consequences) to this historic and venerable institution.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    2 people found this helpful  

    Stay away for your own good

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsThe mission of the Academy is a really admirable one. The staff is full of intelligent, hardworking, passionate individuals. The Academy would be an inspiring place to work if the president and senior leadership were different.

    ConsThe staff at the Academy work incredibly hard, at the expense of their families and social lives, only to be verbally abused, made to cry, or both by the president/senior management. For this reason the staff turn over is incredibly high - on numerous occasions a staff member has quit in the middle of the day due to an especially vicious attack from her. Your work is micromanaged so much it is degrading to your intelligence. No matter what you do it is never good enough. There is very little room for professional growth and there is absolutely no effort made for professional development.
    Not to mention the vacation time and benefits are terrible.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThe Board needs to step in and do a senior management overhaul. The actions that take place on a daily basis are extremely harmful to the staff's wellbeing and the Academy's reputation.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    3 people found this helpful  

    Incredible staff, Abhorrent management. Don't work there unless you are a masochist

    (Former Employee)

    ProsI cannot say enough wonderful things about the intelligence, passion, and generosity of spirit of the staff. It was an honor to support the work of the senior staff. It was also an incredible experience getting to work with the top minds in their fields on projects that contribute to the world's larger critical dialog. The Academy is a special place with the potential to really make a difference. I left quite a while ago and I am still in touch on a weekly basis with at least half a dozen people I befriended while working there. Some are like family.

    They also serve very tasty food.

    ConsHere are the easy ones to write about:
    -not great vacation packages. (the office is closed the week between xmas and new years and they make you take that as vacation time- lame!)
    -Extremely strict scheduling (frowned upon if you put your coat on at 5:29).
    -all staff work above and beyond the 40 hour work week leading up to big events and comp time is as rare as hen's teeth.
    -when there was no power (on more than occasion) and no water the staff was forced to stay in the building.

    What's not easy to write about is the senior management. It is worse than you can possibly imagine. It made me question my faith in humanity- on a daily basis. Reflecting on it now, it seems absurd to think of the horrors that take place in that beautiful building tucked away in the woods behind Harvard Square. Unprofessional doesn't even remotely give it justice. It's abuse. Plain and simple. Verbal abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse. The senior management has a mindset that is so far removed from reality, logic and sanity that if I wrote specifics you'd think I was making it up.

    I would not want my worst enemy to work at the Academy.

    Advice to Senior Managementabandon ship

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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