If you ask any...any...of the professional leaders who have left UJC of their own volition (or were pushed out) over these past two years "why," the answer each would give distilled to its essence will be: "because this UJC leadership would no longer allow me to make a difference for our People." And, if you ask the lay leaders who have resigned their positions or chosen not to seek additional terms, the answer to the same question distilled to its essence will be identical. To me that's a shanda.
Since the disastrous and thoughtless implementation by UJC's CEO and Board Chair of the "Organizational Strategy" in March 2007 (which they actually brag about presenting to the recently completed Young Leadership Cabinet Retreat) with no process whatsoever, UJC professionals have been moved around time and again like pawns on a chessboard, often without regard to their capacity or the unprofessional manner in which transfers and reassignments have been made or, certainly, without thought about the consequences of the almost comical reorganizations. Terrific professionals have seen their positions undermined, their responsibilities and they, themselves, reassigned...without explanation; others with enhanced responsibilities have found themselves with no support professionals. Is it surprising that so many good people are so responsive to job offers elsewhere; and that so many resumes are "on the street"? These professionals want to make a difference for our People; an organization absent leadership, focus and passion, let alone an unseen Table of Organization that must be drawn on a "Magic Slate," can't be a good, let alone "great," place to work.
And, equally sad, how many lay leaders have walked from their positions when they have seen their leadership roles undermined by actions of the Chair and CEO diminishing their responsibilities, modifying the scope of their responsibilities, always without explanation to them until after the fact and without process, often with apparently little thought and even less sensitivity. When mega-donors and ILR-level donors walk away from leadership positions within UJC because they find themselves outside the ever-tightened UJC "circle of trust," how can UJC ever expect to build bridges to the mega donor community? This goal of some of the most critical communities will not be achieved with this leadership of UJC in place. Instead, if the "Mega-Group" of UJA days is any example, the mega-donors today will even more quickly walk away from the federations' national organization than they did then. And that has the potential to be apocalyptic for UJC and our system.
How demoralizing is it to wonderful professionals with tremendous skills and potential to see friends of the most senior professionals promoted over those who have made a career in Jewish communal service? And how demoralizing it must have been to have seen one of the CEO's sons on UJC's payroll (at one time there were two) chosen as one of two "most outstanding young UJC professionals" (chosen by the CEO's COO) and given a free ride to the Young Leadership Cabinet's Tel Aviv I. (You may remember that in an earlier Post, we reported that the CEO rejected a small staff celebration of IEC success uttering the immortal: "we don't thank people for doing their jobs.") Forget the appearance of impropriety, where has the concept of lay oversight built into the governance structure of UJC's "Operational Executive" gone? It has disappeared as has UJC itself. Is any one home...any one?
No, my friends, it is not the critic who stands in the way of UJC making a difference today, it is UJC's leadership itself.