Wednesday, August 25, 2010


~ The Boston Jewish Week scooped the rest of Jewish media and the Washington Federation disclosing that a senior professional at the CJP (the Boston federation) had been offered the D.C. Federation CEO position and had turned it down -- perhaps as a result of receiving a promotion in Boston. As is typical in these circumstance, the story evolved into "who told you about that" and "why did you print it" rather than with the substance that one flailing federation had reached out to a a failing one for the CEO position to succeed Dr. Misha Galperin. Shame. Shame. How terrible. Tsk. Tsk.

In Jewish communal life there are never...never ever..."candidates" for CEO positions because of the absolute shame that would attach to a disclosed interviewee if he or she was not "the chosen one." (And, the converse -- the shame to the federation having extended an offer that is rejected.) For some, the selection process in their minds is the Jewish communal equivalent of the Lebron James (formerly "The King") search for a new home. So, candidates, for that is what they are, don't interview, they "consult" with a Search Committee or "offer their views." If one can't be assured of absolute confidentiality, the Mandel Center Excellence assured all after the Washington embarrassment, they won't "participate in the process." They wrote: "As is standard practice, we will maintain the confidentiality and integrity of the process and will not publicly discuss details of potential candidates, nor will we address unsubstantiated rumors that could potentially harm people." One would expect exactly that.

So, the press reveals an offer was made for the D.C. top job and the Mandel search folks (who, it is rumored, may have excluded highly qualified, potential candidates from consideration in the process in order to protect others they favored), JFNA's consultants, responded by condemning this interference in the process. D.C.'s leaders issued a statement that the job had not been offered to anyone (of course not) and the one who received or didn't receive, the "offer" or "non-offer" received a promotion in his home federation.

~ More to the point, JFNA continues to be run as if its work is none of your business -- none of the business of so many of the federations that pay the annual and outrageous tab. JFNA is, after all a "public charity." The fiduciary obligations of its lay and professional leaders demand -- this is not optional -- that its work be totally transparent. Yet, these past two days, JFNA convened a small group of select leaders -- lay and professional -- to devise a set of strategies that might bring our system back to its collective responsibilities. I applaud the purpose...but the methodology, not so much. Excluded from this meeting were a super-majority of federations (perhaps they were "represented" by leaders of the City-size groups, perhaps not). The paper which framed the "debate" was not shared with anyone excluded from this two-day meeting -- perhaps JFNA leadership numbered the copies and confiscated them at meeting's end to assure "strict confidentiality." The only way many federation leaders learned of this "Summit" was from this Blog -- a wholly unsatisfactory method of communication. The only way we will know the results of this "Summit" will be through some sanitized "Leadership Briefing."

All of you who think this is how the people's business should be conducted -- raise your hands. No, not you Kathy -- we know how you feel.

And, my friends, this is exactly how the "people's business" is done. This is precisely one of the contributing factors to the destruction of trust so vital to federations' vitality. But, don't worry, the secrets are safe -- and, ultimately, that's the most important thing, isn't it?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Washington Jewish Week, not Boston's Advocate