Monday, June 21, 2010


My Post on the failure of the EDP has generated some very thoughtful Anonymous responses (you can read all of them at the EDP Post) and a raft of private e-mails to your author. Here is a sampling:

~ Questioning whether Jerry Silverman and Jay Sanderson, LA's new CEO, were truly "outsiders" (given that both had "...been in and around the Jewish world -- Jerry at the Camp "thing" ["a prominent Jewish organization"] and Jay with the JTN. one Anonymous corespondent argues: "The insider/outsider label is silly. It's sadly typical of lay leadership to latch on to what what seems to them a miracle cure (and of course a cure that leaves their stewardship unscrutinized, as if but for the exec their ship would be at full sail instead of taking on water). As if only the insider exec is what's keeping the federation from success. So the outsider is the flavor of the month. Guess what -- our issues do not lend themselves to flavor of the month solutions."

~ The first Anonymous Commentator to the Post offered real insights about the EDP: "The issue of Federation 'outsider' vs. 'insider' continues to ring true in CEO searches. My impression is that most communities are seeking people from 'outside the system' (new ideas, new views, not stuck in the same old ways, etc.) yet name three federations where those individuals have had long-term success? A 'federation lifer' should be an asset to the system, not a negative. And JFNA...should push those individuals."

He/she offered a superb idea. Recognizing that growth communities will soon join the Top 44 federations if not the Large Cities, "[W]hy shouldn't emphasis be placed on getting top talent (perhaps these EDP graduates) to lead those emerging communities?" Going further, the Commentator observed of the LCE -- "...if they are so good at what they do, leave their long-time homes and challenge themselves to build up these emerging communities. There is a real challenge for you!"

~ Another Anonymous author offered insights as an EDP graduate: "Until the Federation system establishes an agreed upon mission and focuses on what it can do best (with the support of its constituency), it will be a waste of time to try to train people for positions which are undefined and in constant flux. Communal dollars will be best spent on developing mid-level professionals and on efforts that address recruitment and retention."

This professional stated further: "I continue to serve the Jewish community professionally. With more support (not dollars) from the system, I would still be a Federation Executive and mentor to others as I am nationally."

~ One piece of private correspondence sums up the writer's feelings and those of others: "I sit in amazement, just like you, that this is the sad state of my field. Trust me, I could tell you even more from my own personal/professional viewpoint about all of this..."

Sadly, friends, there is so much more to tell...but at JFNA there appears to be no one listening. Our money is wasted by an organization without focus or understanding.



RWEX said...

I have been told that I have confused the 1st EDP graduating class with the 2nd -- the latter being the class holding the "voluntary" reunion next week. While there was but one "drop-out" from that lass before "graduation," the numbers who have since left the federation field since that date were, if anything, greater than I had thought.

Anonymous said...

One of the requirements of getting into EDP was that candidates had to be open to relocating. But they did not uphold their commitment to do so. Many jobs were offered to these folks, but few would relocate. At this level, you have to go where the jobs are in order to stay in the system.

Anonymous said...

As the anonymous author of the first post you cite, I do want to emphasize that while I don't see Jerry or Jay as outsiders, I hope they are successful in bringing in much needed change. Let's face it, we don't have many more chances before implosion happens and so we had all better get behind these (and others) to get us going in the right direction.

As an aside, would we really want to hire an outsider -- someone so removed from our mission and our community that they've never had a connection or made a gift?

Now, as to the topic of EDP etc, it's safe to say that it is very difficult to recruit into the federated system. Try to hire mid level professional. Take a look at what passes for senior professionals.

I apologize for sounding harsh -- these are good and decent people. But we are not attracting the best and brightest.

Why aren't we? The federated system pays better than most non profits. Maybe it's not all about the dough.

Maybe because the level of discourtesy, disrespect and dis-functionality. simply put, the behavior of many volunteers is awful. Too many are mean, dismissive and flat out disrespectful.

The life of a junior and mid-level federation professional is a misery. Are they clerks, servants or punching bags for abuse? Even senior professionals are abused.

To whom do these professional report? Their supervisor/CEO or their lay leader? What's their job -- to carry out programs or carry the bags (and baggage) of their volunteers?

I don't mean to leave the impression that all volunteers act this way. Overwhelmingly they don't. But there are too many volunteers who do act this way for us to overlook the impact of bad behavior.