Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I think a lot about what it will take to restore UJC to the promise it offered us and our Federations and our People. First, let me paraphrase the First Lady of the United States who. in a commencement speech last weekend, said: "Remember you are blessed. You must (reach out) and let someone stand on your shoulders so they can see a better future." What a magnificent way, though it was not Michelle Obama's intent, to encapsulate the higher purpose of our philanthropy in a single charge.

The question for the day: Will Kathy Manning have the strength yet unseen to take UJC on her shoulders and bring it to a better place, the place where it should have been and where it must be? (The same question might be asked about the Chair of the Executive Nominee, but he has already demonstrated by deed and word, that he hasn't the convictions let alone the courage of his convictions, to be anything but a placeholder and a cheerleader for Kathy.) I think, all things considered, Kathy can be incredibly successful against all odds. Her role in the building the mess UJC is in notwithstanding, Kathy has proved herself to be an excellent listener -- now it will be her challenge to operate on what she hears, not merely to listen, take notes and do nothing. She must surround herself not only with those who agree with her on everything but those lay and professional leaders who were ostracized by Kanfer and Rieger and Gelman. She needs a broad level of support and she needs to accept the challenges offered by those who disagree l'shem shamayim. She needs to break out of the tiny phone booth into which the UJC lay leaders of today can fit and offer an expanded tent of leadership wherein all are given the sense that they have real input in the UJC decision-making process.

Kathy knows that she must break UJC out of the Yogi Berra truism: If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. She must prove that those were the roads taken by KanferRieger and she's just not going down them ever again. And, finally, she has led the UJC Search process (which, by length alone, has reached the state if farce). From that process must emerge the "anti-Rieger" -- a professional partner who can inspire the federations with his/her charisma, focus, management style, humor and grace. And that choice must be made now -- even if it is but an "interim" (two years length) choice that with her will get this organization back on its feet.

Can Kathy do it? Yes, I think she can. And, we'll be watching


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