Thursday, November 22, 2012


This is a cautionary tale for JFNA's newly installed Chairs. This is about what can happen when there are no checks and balances. When there is no one around our national organization who knows enough or is confident enough to turn to a Chair and say "No, you cannot do this" stuff like the following follows like day follows night.

We all know that the Global Planning Table structure is such a convoluted maze that it would escape the design of even a Rube Goldberg. Work Groups report up to Commissions which report to the GPT Committee whose recommendations flow to a "Partnership/Executive Committee" which makes "final" decisions. Got it so far? We have a governance structure operating independently of the JFNA governance structure...and even more ridiculous. The hard work takes place at "Working Groups" wich were told by JFNA and GPT leaders during the "zionism" imbroglio, your work doesn't matter.

So, while significant Federation leaders have given serious thought and time to the GPT process. But, at the end of the day, real decisions will be made at only one level -- this "Partnership Committee" level. And, who do we find there as the self-appointed "Interim Chair?"  Who else? Kathy Manning. And, had the original GPT timeline been followed, we would have had the same person sitting as Board Chair and Allocations Chair. We don't permit this in our federations, but, at JFNA, be our guest.

This circumstance reminds me an old Western comedy movie farce where Gabby Hayes, Western supporting actor of yesteryear, would first appear as barkeep in his small town, then Sheriff, then Judge (and probably jury). Here, the Board Chair appoints herself as Chair of the GPT Partnership Allocations Committee, sits on all of the Work Groups, and dictates wording, outcomes, etc. And the best and brightest of our system sit by...nodding. And, David Butler, the GPT Chair appears to perceive his role as toastmaster, MC and disciplinarian.

If that weren't enough. Manning apparently wishes to take the "Interim" from her GPT title while at one and the same time joining the Board of the JDC one of the two major "historic partners" of our federation system whose work and value are being "judged" by the Global Planning Table. Conflict of interest. perhaps? Self-aggrandizement for sure. Narcissism? Call it what you will; it is a form of leadership alien to every construct of good governance.

During her Terms (and aren't the lack of accomplishment and self-aggrandizemnet evidence enough that two one-year Terms [as originally incorporated in the merger documents] are more than sufficient) some of the best and brightest lay leaders -- lawyers, business persons -- just sat back and let power either accrete to or be grabbed by this now past leadership, often without process or governance approval. When challenged face-to-face, the responses I observed most often were: "we elected her Chair and we are obligated to follow her" or "I trust her." When I suggested that we don't follow leaders taking us over a cliff or that trust should be earned not assumed, eyes would glaze over.

So, where does this all end? To me, it appears quite simple. Kathy can graciously (and immediately) resign her position within the Global Planning Table structure. Or, the new Board and Executive Chairs, given their By-Law responsibility to appoint Committee Chairs and members, can give their thanks to Manning for her service and appoint another in her stead. 

This farce has gone far enough and has gone on for far too long.


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