Tuesday, September 2, 2008


In the event you are not one of the privileged few to have been appointed to the UJC Search Committee or don't sit on its Executive Committee, you probably don't know whom the appointees are who will search out the successor, so badly needed now, to Howard Rieger. Like many of you, I am a Board member -- apparently we are all on a "need to know basis" only and the membership of the Search Committee is one those things we just don't need "to know."

So, here it is: The Search Committee includes the Chair of the Executive as its Chair, the current or immediate past Chairs of New York, Chicago and Cleveland, the dynamic Chair of Women's Philanthropy and Past National Campaign Chair, a terrific small city federation leader, the astute and venerable leaders Julia Koschitzky and Shoshana Cardin, a past UJC Executive Chair (who has participated for better or worse in all of the prior Searches), a past Young Women's Cabinet Chair, a long-time Western Region lay leader and the superb Chair of Financial Relations -- and, then, add the UJC insiders: the Board Chair, the Budget Chair, the IO:GO Chair, each of whom responds to the summons of some high-pitched whistle the rest of us can't hear. Appointing these insiders to join the UJC Chairs on the Search Committee, placing those who have helped lead UJC to the brink in a position to help select a CEO who will have to bring a fresh face, fresh ideas and a clear understanding of the obstacles these people have placed in his/her path, is like placing the foxes in a position to guard the henhouse.

At first blush, a strong Committee -- the Large City Federation leaders are strong and knowledgeable as are, certainly, Shoshana, Julie, Diane Seder, Jerry Yanowitz, Lori Klinghoffer and David Fisher; Jacksonville's Steve Silverman can be. When they take this responsibility seriously, they can offset what will surely be an attempt by the UJC "insiders" to manipulate the Search process as they have all others. The Committee members cannot permit, as was the case when Howard Rieger was selected, the UJC Co-Chairs to be an exclusive "screening subcommittee" in the claimed "interests of confidentiality." The Search Committee must insist on being fully engaged from the start -- if some potential candidates choose not to participate for fear that they will be prematurely "outed," so be it.

Then, I looked deeper at the Committee make-up. As UJC is owned by its federations, why were great federations like Palm Beach, Detroit, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Houston, Dallas, Miami, Rochester, NY, San Diego, among others, excluded -- so that the UJC claque could be included or for some other reason? Leaders of a number of these federations told me they asked to be included -- they were, to a person ignored; and they should not have needed to ask. Why the exclusions: to allow UJC's CEO and Board Chair what they cynically perceive to be the easier manipulation of the professional future of UJC? It would be an act of great magnanimity and generosity if all of these UJC insiders would resign before this Search process begins so that federation leaders from these committed communities could be appointed in their place. Do I expect this to happen? Not a chance.


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