Friday, November 18, 2011


Whether at a public charity, a federation or JFNA, there must be in place the structures and processes that assure that the responsibilities and obligations of lay and professional leadership are monitored and assured. At JFNA this "apparatus of accountability" has been placed in fewer and fewer hands and normal checks and balances have disappeared. Consider...

In place are the Board Chair, the Chair of the Executive (the position itself has proved to be about as valuable and necessary as an appendix), the Treasurer and the CEO. The Board Chair also serves as Chair of the Compensation Committee (on which I believe sit only the Chair of the Executive and Treasurer, reporting to no one -- the only way one can learn what the CEO has earned is by examining the JFNA 990, always 1-1/2 years after the fact) and as Chair of something called the Transactions Committee (to which can be delegated, well, anything). The Treasurer serves as Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. The CEO, though hired by the corporation, and responsible to the Board, in practice reports to and is accountable to the Board Chair. (Thus, it is the Board Chair who led the Search Committee that chose Jerry and it is the Board Chair who selected the 24 JFNA leaders she sought out for an evaluation of Jerry after two years of his leadership. And it is the Board Chair, ahead of the input of the 24 she asked to provide it, who had concluded that "Jerry is great." Who's to argue that?)

I was involved in responding to a JFNA Draft of the now breached and disregarded JFNA/JAFI/Joint November 2010 Agreement on behalf of the Agency and Joint. With input from federation CEOs, the original Draft was the work product of only the Board Chair. It was she who negotiated the Draft for JFNA. I would assume it has been she who has dictated how the Agreement would be breached.

The GPT was driven to its unanimous approval by the Board Chair and CEO. A Drafting Committee, undisclosed to any other than the participants and consultant, was appointed by the Board Chair (perhaps with input from the CEO), its membership carefully culled to exclude representation from any federation which might input historic, collective values. When JFNA convened regional meetings to roll out the GPT "straw man" (I do not know what that means) plan, the consultant appeared with the CEO who may or may not have conveyed strong opposition to the Plan -- objections and constructive criticisms  that were not included in the approved GPT Plan.

When there is no apparatus of accountability as is the case at JFNA, a greater burden falls on the JFNA Executive Committee and the Board of Directors -- there are no other checks and balances...none. Yet, neither JFNA governance body has demonstrated any real interest in acting as anything other than an echo chamber for the Board Chair and the CEO. In a public charity, in a federation, and at JFNA for sure, this is a dangerous practice.

An attitude has developed that can best be expressed as: "We elected these leaders and agreed to the engagement of the CEO, let's let them lead and leave them alone to do it. Unless they're stealing or engaged in unlawful practices, we owe it to them to support them without question." That not only distances the Board members from their responsibilities, it distances the organization from its members.

And no one cares.



Anonymous said...

I care. You care. Others care. When we speak out we are excluded from activities. If we withhold our gifts we punish our local community and overseas partners. As donors we have no bility to withhold our JFNA dues.

Weare being held hostage by these aliens (and they are aliens) of JFNA

Anonymous said...

On the contrary. When the US withholds its contribution to the UN it makes a statement and causes huge budget cuts. If even half of the 20 largest federations banned together to withhold dues I am fairly confident this would get the attention of JFNA.

paul jeser said...

Anonymous #1 - for sure you can send your gifts directly to any agency or institution or program that the Fed system supports - and many other worthwhile ones that the Feds do not support.