Thursday, June 28, 2012


I knew, as did all of you, how FUBAR are so many things are at JFNA. But I did not know that:

     ~ Even now, with a totally diminished capacity, JFNA is charging the federations for community FRD participation in the apparently historic "Building the Low End Donor Base...thing." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is the same organization...the very same...that told you two years ago that the recession was over -- good thing that they are not charging for investment advice. But, this is JFNA after all -- they want a percentage of funds raised -- so far, according to JFNA stats, the amount raised was, what, $33,000? Great!!

     ~JFNA issued a classic bizarro Leadership Briefing -- JFNA Helps Uncover Israel Donors Eligible for Dividends from the 1960s -- on June 12. This was one page of details of the  daily workings of JFNA about as informative as a Tweet but 20 times as long. Raised the daily question: how exactly are you helping the federations. Raccoon management -- the ever-changing but constant chase of shiny objects -- at work.

     ~ That May Keren Ha'Yesod International Forum in Florida? JFNA knew all about it; apparently saw nothing wrong with it; and certainly did nothing to stop it. Does anyone at 25 Broadway understand the federation system well enough to know when to say "NO?"

     ~ When the JFNA Search Committee was engaged in the process that resulted in the selection of President/CEO Jerry, it contemplated a double hire -- the CEO and his/her COO. Wisely, that Search Committee decided to leave the selection of the COO to the chief professional officer. Unfortunately, the CEO chose to defer the selection of a COO to 2011, and, then, to "search" only among his own staff. To the dismay of at least one JFNA Senior Professional who was running hard for the position, CEO Jerry has apparently abandoned his Search even though a COO with in-depth knowledge of the federations would be a crucial hire. Is it insecurity...or is it CEO Jerry's belief that he knows it all? Either way, it's a bad decision.

     ~ I have been gratified by the e-mails I have received off-line from federation leaders responding with enthusiasm to our Post of May 18 suggesting 5 steps to "Fixing the Global Planning Table." These "steps" came from one of the Friends of the Blog, a respected long-time federation and national professional leader. Of course...of course...JFNA leaders and consultants are stuck in their own narrative, once again pursuing a futile course of CHAOS; G-d forbid they consider any alternatives. 

It's all so sad.


Monday, June 25, 2012


An Anonymous Commentator wrote the following in response to a recent Post:

"Woody Guthrie once pointed out that signs that say "no trespassing" say nothing from the other side. New people are now coming inside - engage them, empower them, speak out and assume they intend the best till proven otherwise. They come from communities where volunteer leaders matter."

She or he expresses the hope that I not only feel but that I have felt on three prior occasions -- on each of those (once when the immediate past Board Chair and his then Chair of the Executive promised that they would cease the personal and false attacks, but they just couldn't restrain themselves and, then, when the current Board and Executive Chair took office, but, like the scorpion of the treasured fable, "just their nature," and, finally, I placed the Blog on hiatus last year with the promise, once again, that the misrepresentations would stop; but, of course, they didn't.

You may recall that before she took office, the Board Chair received a White Paper drafted by Norm Goldstein of D.C., Rich Bernstein of Miami and your Blogger. At the time she told me that she would use that Paper in discussion with "her" leadership before she took office. I can sadly state that, while she may have done so, not one of the questions raised in the White Paper has been addressed, let alone answered. There has been neither Vision nor Mission nor purpose. In his tribute to his Chair (apparently in response to a Post on these pages with regard to the Chair's acceptance of a Hillel honor), CEO Jerry could recite but five accomplishments (including TribeFestivus and the rebranding of JFNA of all things) over the six years of her leadership. I would add -- she runs a good meeting.

As an expression of my hope that the ship will be turned by the new Chairs in positive directions, this Blog will go on hiatus upon their taking office. I may focus on other things. I wish them, as I have wished their predecessors, kal ha'kavod and best of luck.


Friday, June 22, 2012


All of you are familiar with the "rule" that reads: "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." Well, that's all of you who aren't at JFNA. For once again these _________s (fill in the blank) have stood a rule on its head -- for JFNA it's "if you find yourself in a hole, dig deeper." Allow me to explain.

The Global Planning Table is a mess. Confused, confusing, promising outcomes it can't deliver, predictably it offers the federation system and its historic partners a bigger disaster than was ONAD. Further, it is creating expectations that will pit federation against federation, historic partner vs. historic partner. It is not a "planning" function at all unless one considers a disastrous set of outcomes a result of "planning."

So, when I received an e-mail from a terrific professional, one who is truly dedicated to and experienced in our federation system, articulating "...a few smart adjustments" that might actually make viable the GPT planning and execution, I published it on May 18 under the Post titled "'Fixing' the Global Planning Table." Since that date the Committee met with wholly predictable and negative outcomes. I decided that I would send the Post to Jerry. I did so on June 7 with a cover note, that concluded: "[A] respected professional sent me five steps that could effect change (to the GPT)."

Jerry's response floored even me. He refused to read the Post because he doesn't " the Blog." (ahem!!) Of course this made sense only to the ostrich genus. Though this sorry chapter is now closed, I wrote Jerry: "Of course, knowing that you don't read the Blog (!!??), I sent you this Post because I thought it was constructive...Refusing to consider these recommendations, regardless of the source, seems to me to be very short-sighted, but so be it; it's your call."

This is but a footnote to a sorry chapter in organizational history. Leaders who hear no evil and see no evil (though they speak plenty of it) and brook not even constructive criticism that gets in the way of their predetermined course, their narrative, their way. And they think things are going so well...they are, aren't they?


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


~ Incoming...and Outgoing.  Several of you have written to warn me that the now lame duck chairs will no doubt "school" the incoming Board Chair with the same sad viral misrepresentations about your Blogger that they have so "effectively" spread from Chicago to the offices of the JAFI Board Chair -- funny how those same ugly misrepresentations didn't influence the current JAFI Chair's predecessor. You may not remember  that 6+ years ago, the current Board Chair and her predecessor visited with one of our system's most respected mega-donors. Immediately after that visit, this friend called me: "Be careful, Richard, they're out to get you and they won't stop until they do." And, here I stand...and they continue...vendetta unrequited. So sorry.

~ Earth to Jerry. One of our major federations is in meltdown (we will write further in the future of the disaster that is the "model" of what can happen when a small group of controlling lay leaders who know little if anything about federation combine with ineffective professional leadership in an environment of reduced campaigns). Guess they thought that given the ridiculous amount of Dues they pay -- how does mid-six figures sound? -- the least they could do would be to have CEO Chair and President Jerry fly in for a little support; that's what cheerleaders do, I guess. Any attempt to understand what's going on there...any possibility of understanding the implications...any ability for JFNA to provide any real guidance or mediation before there is an implosion of epic proportions? Are you kidding? If given the choice of counselling or even constructively criticizing sitting lay and professional leadership even behind closed doors, mediating a potentially catastrophic community split or just cheerleading in a community paying mid-six figure Dues, what would you expect  Jerry would do/did? You'd be right. Called this the "best led federation in the country" or words to that effect. Earned those Dues, didn't you? Reinforced the brand?

~ The Bizarro World of the GPT. Please know that all you have read on these pages about the most irrelevant directions the Global Planning Table has already taken represents but the smallest part of the avalanche of paper that has cascaded down on the Committee members. But, that's not all -- the multiple directions that the GPT will take will be decided this month; then the games will begin -- options will be given to the federations as if the directions have not been chosen, months of discussions will ensue and, then, by the 2013 GA, the very directions determined by the few will be dictated to the federations as if the decisions were theirs. Farce? Yes. Waste? Oh, yeah. And, I am still wagering that the once all-controlling one is angling to be appointed GPT Chair.

~ What Journey Are We "Completing?" Y'all remember the plaintive missives from Kathy and Jerry urging the federations to come up with, what was it now, $5 million, or was it $3.3 million, or some other number, to get the remaining Falash Mura in Ethiopia to Israel? And you, of course, remember, that in meetings with the Prime Minister (or maybe it was in one of those JFNA "letters") JFNA leaders "demanded" that the aliyah be expedited. Now, Jerry and Kathy are wringing their hands because the federations haven't responded -- not with $5 million, not with $3.3 million but with maybe...could be...$1 or $2 million? Whatever it is, it's $3.5 million short.  So in conference calls with the CEOs, Jerry, with Paul the Silent, have been pleading for funding with what is now called Completing the Journey II. Now I don't recall a Completing the Journey I but if anyone can rebrand anything its CEO Jerry. And if there was a "I" and "I" is over isn't the Journey "completed?"

Also, it's now a "Campaign." To JFNA "Campaign" is but a "collective." They don't know the meaning but it just sounds soooooo good when it rolls off the tongue.


Saturday, June 16, 2012


~ For JFNA no issue is too far afield not to have an opinion on -- most recent example, the issues surrounding foreign workers in Israel. "We" -- deplore conditions and "we" applaud the PM making a statement against...what, exactly? Foreign workers in Israel? Discrimination against foreign workers in Israel? Yes, We have opinions on all sorts of things as long as we don't have to fund anything. Next, a strong letter will be delivered to the Office of the Prime Minister. There have been unsurprising albeit sad revelations of racist acts against Israeli Ethiopians -- something that could use the intervention of a responsible JFNA, but JFNA-Israel appears to be just "too busy" with the horribly wasteful Global Planning Table, tracking down investors in a real estate scheme gone bad and issuing "statements" then to actually get its hands dirty. Yes, let's "Complete the Journey (II)." Compare and contrast, class, with the Fact of the Week that appeared the next day -- a simple story, but a paragraph, of the JDC's work with 700,000 Israelis with disabilities. JFNA:JDC. Yes, compare and contrast. What's wrong with the JFNA's self-promotion? Nothing really...except what they choose to promote.

~ Then, to what must have been the total surprise of the many who toil at JFNA-Israel, the coalition government indicated its support for recognition of the Reform and Conservative Movements in Israel, at least partially. This was a critically important matter on the civil society agenda; even if some have characterized it as no more than a baby step.  I don't recall anything on this subject from the p.r. mavens at JFNA. So, the lights must have been on late at 25 Broadway that night: "How do we take credit for this? How do we make this about us? Can we backdate a letter to the Prime Minister? There has to be a way." Sure.

~ There have been periodic demands on JFNA to seek additional revenues over and above Dues or in lieu of some portion of Dues. Nice doubt well meant. But JFNA under any of its previous guises never figured out how to do it -- charging for community consultations, taking a slice out of consultant fees, charging for campaign assistance, etc., etc. -- federations quickly raised the question that we discussed recently: what are we getting for our Dues exactly? Even those who are pushing this now must know that no organization can raise money to support its own budget -- for programs, yes; support the most needy, of course; overhead, uh uh. Essentially, someone (or ones) has sent JFNA's CEO off on a fool's pursuit. And off he goes.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


It was inevitable, of course, that JFNA's informal (that means "dictated by the Board Chair and acquiesced in by the always agreeable, soon to be the Treasurer, Chair of Financial Relations") "policy of ignoring federations which pay less than their allocated Dues" or which "negotiate" a great deal to reduce their Dues, would come back to haunt the federations which, year-in and year-out, pay their Dues in an unquestioning manner -- like the proverbial chickens coming home to roost.  JFNA would set up a "reserve" and then annually use at least part of it to make up the "Dues deficit." Thus, JFNA could say with a straight face when asked: "we never use overseas allocations to make up our Budgetary deficits." And, that would be true -- except for the fact that the Dues-paying federations were funding the Reserve which could otherwise have funded core overseas needs.

Isn't it time -- past time, actually -- for JFNA to disclose to all federations the Dues deals that have been made, the list of federations that are in arrears (some for multiple years) and those that are not paying Dues at all (some for multiple years)?  Do the Chair of Financial Relations and/or the Treasurer not have an absolute fiduciary duty to the institution -- to the Owners -- to make such disclosures? Instead of honesty and candor among and with the Owners, JFNA  first suggested that the largest federations make up the deficit that JFNA's refusal to acknowledge federation non- or delayed Dues payments caused. Just BRILLIANT!!

I now assume that in response to this non-starter (some federations dues would have increased by well into six figures!!) it was the largest federations which "suggested" that JFNA reduce its Dues Budget in like amount. Hence the Budget emerged with a JFNA commitment to raise $700,000 over and above Dues. Do I hear an abra-cadabra? No. What I hear is that JFNA considers "fund raising" to be (1) pleading with the federations (no doubt starting with those largest) to pay for JFNA's commitment to fund the Secure Community Network; (2) invading the JFNA endowment for operating funds (verboten in almost every community of which I am aware); and (3) grabbing more donors dollars paid to the Network to support Overseas needs for its own Budget. And this is JFNA -- demanding that we trust these leaders...leaders who behave like this.

Friends, these are not the acts of a responsible organization. knew that.


Sunday, June 10, 2012


When the current and immediate past lay and professional leadership look back on the past six years all they will see is greatness; an dispassionate review fiterrible nds only waste -- wasted dollars, wasted time and, worst, wasted opportunities. As I have pointed out time and again, this so-called "leadership" only pursued that which we, the federations, the JFNA Board, permitted them to do and repeat. It is also sad.

Reading Robert Caro's brilliant and most recent work on the history of Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power, I was struck by the following quote so apt to the last six years of JFNA -- more than one-half of the organization's lifetime: "...although the cliche says that power always corrupts, but what is equally true is that power always reveals..." We granted the last two sets of JFNA Chairs unfettered power and these are among the things we learned (or should have):
  • When organizational Chairs and their CEOs preempt the Owners needs for their own half-baked agendas, the organization will inevitably fail;
  • The Chairs (and chief professional officers) of the federation-owned umbrella organization must be students of and immersed in the guiding principles and values of federation, otherwise the bus they have been delegated to drive will be heading off a cliff. Parachuting into absolute leadership those who may have been immersed in, e.g., JFNA but not federation is a destructive practice; and
  • Before their election, future organizational Chairs must be measured by a clear understanding of the organization's goals, not their own; by their embrace of the organization's Mission, not their own; and by their tolerance for debate and, even, disagreement as measured by their past experiences and actions.
What we have learned is that when these qualities and experiences are lacking and we elect those with personal agendas, personal scores to "settle," and those whose main driving force is "control all things," the owners and their agenda are lost.

A great statesman opined last month as follows: "At those times when you're absolutely sure you're right, talk with someone who disagrees. And if you constantly find yourself in the company of those who say 'Amen' to everything that you say, find other company." JFNA's current and immediate past leaders consistently sought out only those who always agreed with them...and that's ALWAYS. If you disagreed you were "not on our team," "can't be trusted" and you were tossed from the team bus to the pavement...or worse. These "leaders" wanted only mirrors that reflected their own brilliance as their "teammates" -- they got them and the consequences for the organization are self-evident.

An advisor to one of the most powerful government leaders once stated what seems so obvious a fatal flaw in our  JFNA leaders over the last six years: "(She) would refuse to hear any facts which conflicted with (her) 'reaiity,' to listen to anyone who disagreed with (her)." And, so personally flawed, our leaders over the last six years transferred their very personal fatal flaws to the institution they were chosen to lead. These "leaders" somehow believe that no debate is far better than any debate; thus, the promotion of the most sycophantic over any others, and, thus, any possibility of real engagement is lost.

JFNA was "blessed" with a "perfect storm" for the past three of the past six years -- lay and professional leaders who listened to the sound of their own voices. Who let no criticism penetrate unless from a Large City and, then, best a Large City Executive. This was no way to run any organization. And the results are self-evident.

That's why the independent actions of the JFNA Nominating Committee were so refreshing -- delivering the hope that new Chairs, ones not beholden to this sorry leadership, can and will strike out in new and responsible directions, absent vendettas and open to contrary opinions.

Let us pray.


Thursday, June 7, 2012


~ I spent six hours on the phone on Monday, June 4, listening to the JFNA Board Meeting. I understand there were over 180 men and women leaders -- lay and professional -- present in New York. An excellent turn out. I can attest that there was a spirit of good will and a consistent display of good humor at the meeting. It was a "feel good" meeting to be sure.
~ Congratulations to the JFNA Nominating Committee. For the first time in a long, long time, a JFNA Committee understood its responsibilities and executed them without accepting interference from sitting officers or CEO. The nominees for Board Chair and Chair of the Executive have incredible backgrounds in leadership -- Campaign Chairs, Federation Chairs and in the Jewish and general community as well. Only time will tell if they can rescue JFNA from itself...but their nomination alone offers great promise even if the Board Chair position was a really hard one to fill -- if you get my drift.

~ In the meantime, the current leadership continues its damage to the organization unabated. While I will write in detail about the  Budget in future Posts, know that the "Budget reduction" of $750,000 is but camouflage -- leadership intends to raid the funds raised by the Network and the JFNA Endowment to help make up the Dues reduction...and your federation and mine will be requested to once again increase its funding of the SCN (the Secure Communities Network which JFNA agreed to fund going forward...never mind) as well. (This doesn't begin to describe the bizarre budgeting in which JFNA is engaged -- example: JFNA has sent out multiple letters over multiple years pleading for increased support for the Ethiopian National Project. In 2013, JFNA will cuts its budgetary support for the ENP.) This is the JFNA shell game, friends.

One can only sit back in amazement at JFNA's leaders' chutzpah. Months ago we described on these pages the putsch in which the Board Chair engaged when she essentially stole the leadership and governance of the 400 communities and leaders of the Network because that leadership was getting in her way. She claimed at the time that she was "making the Network more efficient," assuring that the Network was "on the team." Instead we have a Network without any governance body from within the Network itself; its decisions being made by the Board Chair and her claque. This is how far the Network has fallen since its creation by UJA.

~ Perhaps I should feel honored. The so-called "leaders" of JFNA never fail to advise me that they "never...never, never, ever..." read this Blog "...except when some one sends a Post on to them." Sure. So it a rare honor when three days (including Shabbat) after I published Unreal. my shout-out to the Board Chair about the impropriety of the leader of the federations' organization accepting an award from a fund-raising organization that is (a) a major beneficiary of the Owners and (b) holding its incredibly expensive Awards Banquet at the height of the federation owners' annual campaigns...yes, just three days later, JFNA itself in one of its hyperbolic Leadership Briefings "congratulated" the Board Chair for being so honored. With quotes from CEO/President Jerry and a summary of JFNA's "accomplishments" over KM's six years of what passes for leadership these days -- it's a brief list, of necessity. Hmmmm. I wonder who ordered the Briefing...and why?

~ And, on a personal note, I am awaiting the day on which JFNA's current leaders attempt to poison the environment between the incoming Chairs and your Blogger. Never missing a chance to slander, I don't believe they would miss this one.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Thanks to ejewishphilanthropy for doing JFNA's work for it.

It's all so pathetic. Hiding beneath the banner of the American organization, United Israel Appeal, calling itself, Keren Ha'Yesod-UIA, the leaders of the Jewish communities other than America,  Keren Ha'Yesod, organized what they characterized as an international conference in the Silicon Valley and held it May 13-15. As Dan Brown pointed out in his Heard Around Jerusalem piece, "[W]ith a core donor base that is both drying up and dying out," KH, as it is known, invaded America. This wouldn't have happened if we had a national organization worthy of any respect.

While JFNA was distracted by shiny little objects, its supposed overseas parallel organization invaded our constituency without either a word from JFNA or any protest from that august body. The only thing that could possibly be worse would be if JFNA knew of this Conference, winked or actually approved it. Oh, yes, one thing could be worse -- if JFNA participated in it.

Incredibly, KH, whose membership embodies Jewish communities around the World other than in the United States, includes as its premier member, the Canadian Jewish communities, which are also members of JFNA. 

Before my time, there was an international Committee on Control -- an organization governed by the small number of major Jewish fund raising organizations around the world. It acted to assure that invasions like this one would not, could not, occur. And, then, it was gone.

JFNA formed Blue Knot within its then FRD function to bring together at major events (e.g., the GA, when that was a major event, etc.) those leaders who were the focus of the KH effort. And, then, even though successful, it was gone.

It is evident that all around us communal discipline has broken down. JFNA is broken, creating a void in which an even more desperate Keren Ha'Yesod now steps. And, at JFNA, they just kvell about the Board Chair being honored by Hillel. Yeah, we've got our priorities straight. Sure we do.


Monday, June 4, 2012


~ TribeFestivus 2 Was a Great Success. We know this to be the case because JFNA's leaders keep telling us so. Latest, in the midst of a self-congratulatory summary for the eyes (only?) of the Executive Committee (I hope it is distributed because it is, in context, hysterical) these "leaders" brazenly announce that the event was not just "revenue neutral" but turned a small "profit." Pay attention here -- you budget $818,000 which is truly $1 million when you add in staff time, overhead, travel, etc. You induce 1,500  (does that number include the relatively revenue free attendance from the host community?)  young adults (now, you recall, they are "leaders") by your count. You wangle a $100,000 grant from the JFNA Endowment for more subsidies and you have a cost per participant of $667. Yeah, this is a spectacular success -- JFNA-style. Let's do it again.

~ What Do They Really Know? Friends within JFNA have sent me some of the work product and correspondence emanating from the staff and consultant to the GPT. The federations are paying a literal fortune for a Table they don't need in their homes, but from what I have been reading, even at this late date, I sense that the JFNAers responsible for the Table may not know the respective roles and responsibilities of the "Historic Partners" -- or they may just not care. This whole thing is a shanda that just keeps on getting shandaier.

~ The Nominating Process - Reflections. While the results of the Nominating Process appear to be excellent at the top of the ticket -- a wonderful Chair of the Executive comes from within our system and understands it in all of its aspects and a Board Chair, though parachuted in, comes out of a rich philanthropic environment and a community with strong professional leadership -- and who really looks at the other officers, there were process anomalies that could only have come from a dysfunctional leadership:

     ~~ A sitting Board Chair known for her control of all things, not only doesn't serve on the Nominating Committee ex officio (as have all of her predecessors [for better or for worse] and as is common practice everywhere), but she does not formally offer any suggested names though she did so informally. (One "suggestion" about which she did feel strongly, apparently even told the potential nominee the position was his/hers, was rejected by the Nominating Committee. Maybe the CEO/President forgot to mention it to the Committee -- or, maybe, he was ignored.) Like most things JFNA, quelle horreur!

     ~~ We will probably never know whether this Nominating Committee was sending a message to the Board Chair and President/CEO that "you have been marching down the wrong path," "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more," etc. But, we can hope against hope, can't we?


Sunday, June 3, 2012


In this political season, as every four years, the question that will most asked and most repeated will be a simple one: "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" And, in the context of our national organization, our JFNA, the question becomes: "Are you better off today than you were six years ago?" And, the answer, my friends, seems so self-evident. On the cusp of another desultory Board meeting, I thought we might wish to reflect...

Why 6 years? Why not 4? Well, the current leaders snuck through a By-Law change to stretch the terms of the current Board Chair and her predecessor to three years. The rationale -- none that I recall, other than "we can accomplish so much more if we have that additional year." The reality, the original by-laws provided for one Co-Chair to have a single extended term so that the organization would not experience the turnover of both Co-Chairs at the same time. Ne'er mind! Now they both turn every three years rather than two unlike 90% of the successful federations in our system.

And what have these successive Chairs and two CEOs accomplished over six...count em, 6...years? The expenditure of over $200,000,000...that's $200,000,000 of our money, friends. Shouldn't there be more on the score sheet than the continuation of programs of UJA and CJF from the prior decades, more than the consistent successes out of JFNA-Washington,  more than Heroes, #ish and a couple of Fests (which cost about $500,000 [or more]) to serve 1,200 and 1,500 (and probably less and, in Year 2, duplicative) mainly already affiliated young adults for a weekend in Vegas; more than growing brand identity for a "brand" that still, in surveys suppressed at 25 Broadway, ranks below UJA in the minds of the Jewish Community; more than Cabinets whose diminishing financial contributions compared with their elders reflects their dwindling influence in our communities; a Missions program constantly promised to be "reignited" but forgetting, on most, the critical element of fund raising.

And, speaking of fund raising -- where is it? In a succession of Budgets? Sure. In the field? Afraid not. A $Million Dollar Round Table?" (Another week, another "Table.") Yes, one meeting after four years in planning, while two mega-donors who graciously agreed to Co-Chair the effort were spun with promises of "real soon." The first meeting was so successful, no second meeting has been planned. The FRD staff has been cut back and cut back again. What exactly do some of these professionals do? Who gives them direction...and is that person capable of doing so? Name ten...just 10... people outside of 25 Broadway that have been solicited by JFNA. Take your time.

Then, there are the "historic partners" -- I call them the "lip service partners" -- because all they get is lip service while for at least the last six years, no leader of JFNA has raised their voice on a constant basis in support of the work, let alone the core allocations of the Jewish Agency and/or JDC. This is the greatest shame of all. For three years at least, these "leaders" have been planning for and are now implementing, at the cost of millions in Budget, a Global Planning Table designed to further deconstruct the communities historic commitment to overseas needs as embodied in the work of the Joint and Jewish Agency. These "leaders" have conjured up a Global Planning Table arising out of a discussion engaging about 25% of the Federations at a Retreat no one remembers any more, so discussion could morph into a "mandate" -- a "mandate," apparently, for the "chaos" we have pointed to in a series of Posts, chaos that will make the last days of ONAD look like nirvana...yes, like real nirvana.

And, I'm not even bothering with the vendettas -- against National Campaign Chairs, UIA Chairs, Federation Chairs and federation execs, constituency Chairs -- anyone who spoke out constructively or not who were frozen out, walked out to azazel, attacked in the shadows. The narishkeit that seemed to be the energizer for all that has gone wrong.

And, so, when this Spring the  JFNA Officers Nominating Committee went "rogue," it sent a signal -- we're moving away from a leadership that over six years of waste failed to significantly invest in  the federations' success. (Remember, this was a JFNA that two years ago was organizing a Continental Conference Call on "What To Do Now that the Recession is Over," so out of touch are they at 25 Broadway. We're moving toward a leadership of and from the federations -- rather than of and from JFNA. What a couple of refreshing choices.

(Of interest: the current Board Chair had promised one of the Chair positions to a federation leader of note, one who had also provided significant support to the this Board Chair in her efforts to build the one-legged Table of Global Planning, in her efforts to breach the JFNA Agreement with JAFI/JDC, Yet, the Nominating Committee didn't think so and turned to another leader untainted by any association  within JFNA with these Chairs. Embarrassed, the Board Chair and CEO are searching for a position, literally any position, for this leader, who really was too disappointed by this insult -- clearly not as embarrassed as was/is the Board Chair. Must be tough for a Board Chair who believes that the office granted her carried with it total dictatorial authority.)

And, here we are, after six years in which the federation system has slowed to a halt and our national organization hasn't a clue how to move it forward; after six years in which we have watched JFNA spend over $200 million of our donors funds without regard to our donors' wants or our federations' needs; six years without discernible Vision or direction.

Six sad years...the saddest.


Friday, June 1, 2012


JFNA has circulated one of its periodic and always hilarious Updates -- this one on the always hilarious Global Planning Table. After updating the reader on what passes for "progress," the author(s) go on to explain why, if you are asked to serve on a GPT Working Group you should give serious consideration to just saying "NO!!"

I think what follows is self-explanatory:
"The task of the Working Groups will be to begin with very broad areas of interest, and to begin the process of narrowing the focus of the analysis in order to establish high level goals of what we want to accomplish. Once the Working Groups articulate the high level goals and any suggested overall strategies for our work (e.g., 'we will only invest in programs that have a clear exit strategy that sustains the impact of the work being supported by Federations' (this is such a good idea that surely JFNA will adopt this "goal" and apply it to its own programs) or 'we will emphasize programs that empower and build capacity in local communities' (ditto) or 'we will only invest in programs in this area where we can measure the outcomes' (double ditto)), we will form Commissions, which will be charged with responsibility to determine how best to accomplish these high level goals. Working Groups may discuss meta-strategies within each assigned area, but will not go into detail about what kinds of programs make sense to address particular challenges or opportunities, or who are the right partners to work on particular sub-topic areas (this will be the job of the Commissions (got it?) or how much money should be allocated to any particular aspect of our collective work (this will be the job of the Partnership Committee (got that?))" 
 Now, this double-speak goes on for another page. I think you get the point. The GPT "process" has been designed to assure, as we've observed on these pages before...CHAOS!! The Working Groups will sit around determining, maybe, "high level goals" in their assigned areas and, maybe, "meta-strategies." But meta-strategies are defined as "an overarching strategy determining which other strategies to use in a given situation" and that "determination" is left to "Commissions" which themselves will have no authority to recommend dollar allocations.

Hey, seriously, if any of this b.s. strikes you as more than another JFNA attempt to hornswoggle the federations, let me know.