Friday, June 19, 2009


A major force in Chicago's real estate community, Harvey Walken, z'l, passed away last week. Among his passions was baseball, he loved the Cubs and at one time was a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The title of this Post was a saying Walken created to describe his Cubs. Had Harvey known of United Jewish Communities, he might have added and any organization can have a bad decade -- but this bad?

How bad-- count just some of the ways: three "strategic plans" in four years, a constantly changing focus, firings without compassion, a leadership arrogance astounding even to the media, the marginalization of Development/Campaign, the movement of Missions to Israel followed by the movement of Missions back to New York, lay-offs and forced resignations of women from top down, disengagement from federation owners, the increasing number of federations unwilling or unable to support UJC's Budgets, special unannounced "deals" with major federations based on a "recalculation" of annual campaign results, elevating Officers with responsibility for the "Bad Decade" to higher positions. an abandonment of the partnership with JDC and JAFI, the exclusionary pattern of this lay leadership, the vilification and demonization of those suggesting a different direction, no advocacy for anything other than Dues and the personal pet projects of the Officers, a refusal to come to grips with the economic tsunami when UJC could have made a difference...and so much more.

Did it have to be this way? Of course not. UJC was on the cusp of real success when Steve Hoffman returned to Cleveland. A strong lay leader, Sonny Plant, z'l, had acted to end the acrimonious and futile ONAD process in consultation with, among others, federation executives, JDC and JAFI. Engagement of the federations with UJC was strong. There were flaws but they seemed under control. And, then...

The result: Any organization can have a bad decade.


No comments: