Friends, the Mandel Executive Development Program (the "EDP"), begun with trumpets blaring and drums pounding, has proved to be less than the triumph it might have been...far less...far, far less. With a major investment by the federations through JFNA and the commitment of resources by the Foundation, it could have been a great example of a major foundation working together with our federation instrumentality in pursuit of great systemic goals. Instead, since 2005, it has become an example of what can happen when great plans are implemented by bureaucrats. And, it is a shame.
We have already written about the sad results of the first "class" of the EDP -- more than half of that class have left the federation system and JFNA's two professional leaders of the EDP left JFNA long ago. As to the the second "class," sources tell me that half of that class dropped out before graduation. And, then, after none...that's zero, zed, none...of the remaining members of the two classes have become Large City Federation CEOs, the EDP was disbanded -- or, shall I say "reoriented" (more about that below).
Now, the bizarre. If you go to the Mandel Foundation website, you will find a link to the EDP on the JFNA website. (Follow me here.) There the EDP is identified as an UJC program. (Are you following this?) As I noted above, the Program itself has quietly been deep-sixed -- a former "priority program" now unfunded (but still on both the Mandel and JFNA websites). Now, read the Program's noble purposes:
"The Executive Development Program's (EDP) goal is to develop a pool of outstanding candidates who will be trained and prepared to ascend into the the chief professional officer position in the top 40 federations."
And what happened? First, politics. A number of Federations demanded representation based on Dues payments, without regard to qualifications. Then unlike Chicago which offered opportunity to three brilliant young professionals, a number of communities sent "representatives" much like a reward (although the program had inherent value for sure) even as these professionals in many instances had no greater aspiration within the federation system. And then so many just dropped out of the system altogether.
Curiouser and curiouser. The federations' national search "arm" within JFNA is managed with Mandel. Yet, to my knowledge, not a single "Mandel EDP Fellow" has yet to be placed in a CEO position within the largest 40 federations. While Mandel search pros might argue that you do what the customers demand, my response might be that you are obligated to help influence the customers' choice consistent with the purposes and objectives of the EDP. Obviously, by result, I would be wrong.
This was an extremely expensive Program begun with such promise. I remember the enthusiasm at then UJC Executive Committee when Steve Hoffman and federation CEOs proposed the EDP Partnership. To watch the EDP deteriorate into a memory has been almost inconceivable. And no one seems to care that over $1 million was invested with no apparent sense of "ownership" at JFNA of this Program after its JFNA professional leaders resigned. Today, JFNA continues to invest in/with Mandel -- $500,000 in this year's Budget (if I read that Budget correctly -- and, trust me, that's hard to do) -- but for very changed purposes:
"Mandel/Federation Consultations -- Including Mentoring, Executive Coaching, S Planning (for Strength, Success and Succession [ed, oy vey, S planning!!] and work with new CEO's. The purpose is to raise the level of performance of Federation CEOs and key staff..."
So, what "inspired" this Post beyond sadness and lost opportunity. The "graduates" of the first two (actually the only two) Mandel EDP "classes" are having a reunion in Chicago this month -- the 27th to 29th. They invited Silverman to speak. I saw a certain irony -- these professionals, drawn to the EDP because of the "goal" recited above, to give them the tool kit they would use to "ascend" to federation CEO leadership, would hear from JFNA's new CEO who rose to our national organization's chief professional officer position from Dockers through Camps, hired for the very reason that, among other reasons, he had no prior federation experience. And, Jerry is coming. Should be a great presentation!!
We live and work in complicated times.