Thursday, September 6, 2012
HERE COMES DAVID COPPERFIELD...
One Commentator examining the chaos at JFNA suggested one solution I hadn't thought of:
I hereby nominate David Copperfield as the new Chairman of the Global Planning Table. David Butler has done a great job preparing the GPT for its next act.
Copperfield, the famous magician will know what to do with this one...
Over the last weeks I have been reminded of the quote from 1993 when then Secretary of State Warren Christopher was roaming the globe without any impact: "This wouldn't have happened if Warren Christopher was still alive." I feel the same way about GPT Chair David Butler. I got to know David when he represented Dr. Misha Galperin and I JAFI -- he was terrific to work with, always responsive, he aggressively and professionally represented his client. It was a good and professional negotiation to closure. He is a well-regarded community leader and, no doubt, his selection along with his his friend, Joanne Moore's appointment, promised, as I wrote back then, a redirection of the Global Planning Table. But...stuff happened. David, today, is an apologist for the mistakes of others, and an apparent bystander to the catastrophe that the GPT has become.
Were I a betting man, I would wager that Butler is very unhappy: his friend Joanne Moore has left with no support (or thanks) from the JFNA CEO, opportunities to revamp the GPT that first appeared on these pages were rejected by JFNA without even apparently being read, and he has become the "enforcer' of a policy of total secrecy inconsistent with the public's business.
I don't buy that David is obligated by his appointment to total obsequity to the demands, however irrational, of the Board Chair (or her consultant) or the CEO; unless David was told when he accepted the Chairmanship of the GPT: "Many thanks, now stand there in the corner and nod your head when we point to you." He brought leadership skills to this position that far exceeded those who appointed him. Now...he needs to exercise them...he needs to become "David Copperfield"...if he is able.
I am reminded of two of many other lay leaders who stood up when it counted. One was one of my mentors in national Jewish life -- a strong personality who did not suffer fools at all. In the 90's this leader was asked to become the national UJA Marketing Chair. He strived to make the most of the position that he could but he resigned because, as he told me, "if _________________, the National Chair, is going to do my job as well as his own, then he doesn't need me. I'm not in this for titles." Then, more recently, David Fisher, now the CEO of Birthright, resigned his position as JFNA National Campaign Chair when he was frustrated by the actions of the Board Chair and CEO in ways that diminished the place of Campaign and FRD at JFNA over his protests.
OK, class, compare and contrast.