In May JFNA convened an important Second Annual Professional Women's Leadership Conference. The Leadership Briefing on the subject got me to thinking (and not just about the Board Chair's presentation which offered such truisms as "ask for what you want, don't expect to just get recognized" and "make sure your passion matches your work") about women in lay positions of leadership at JFNA.
I went to the JFNA website where the 2011 Annual Report lags badly behind the 2012 reality. So, updating as best I could to reflect some portfolio changes, here's where we are: the Board Chair and Jewish Philanthropy Chair are women as are some of those Chairs elected by their constituencies (like National Women's Philanthropy and Women's Cabinet) and the Chair of the Disaster Relief Committee. Then, there are the Chair of the Executive, the Treasurer, the Secretary, the Chairs of Community Development Capacity Building, Global Operations: Israel and Overseas, Financial Relations, the Network, Audit and Marketing/Communications -- all men.
I asked myself -- did these men "ask for they wanted, not expecting to just get recognized?" Were these men those who "made sure their passion matched their work?" All the while did women lay leaders fail to do so? I don't think so. You would have thought there would have been greater sensitivity at JFNA after the initial storm of protest over the few women speakers then scheduled at the Denver GA.
It appears that, unlike JFNA when it was but Newco at its birth, when Charles Bronfman assured gender equity in lay positions by virtue of his personal commitment, something...someone...just got lost along the way. As with so many things. While women in lay leadership rightly aspire to leadership roles and are deserving of their equitable share of them, at JFNA, you get the Manning, so justifiably proud of being JFNA's first woman Board Chair, yet apparently doing nothing to elevate women to leadership roles. (And, she cannot claim to have had any role in Dede Feinberg's nomination to succeed Michael Gelman; Manning was actively supporting another... a man.)
Here is what I would strongly recommend to women lay persons who aspire to leadership roles: "ask for what you want, don't expect to just get recognized" and "make sure your passion matches your work."