I am writing this to you to make you aware, although you already may be aware, that there is a separate governance system that has been hidden away within the maze that is the Global Planning Table with which you and your leadership should be very concerned....very concerned. Let me explain....
With TribeFest, Heroes and #ish apparently (with this professional leadership, one never knows) behind it, JFNA could be poised to actually begin, after six years of purposeless distraction, to take its proper place as the federations' umbrella organization. But, that will only happen if, for once and for all, you, as JFNA's new lay Chairs, make it clear that the organization can no longer tolerate being driven off a cliff by blind adherence to this Global Planning Table that has become its professionals and ex-Chair's obsession.
During the last week of November, the Global Planning Table leadership (that's neither you, Michael, nor you, Dede) convened two Webinars, ostensibly to update the federation and JFNA leadership on the "progress" of the GPT "process." These conference calls, in which federations barely participated, were dominated by three people, David Butler, who serves as GPT Chair/MC, Karen Barth, the Consultant, and Kathy Manning, the so-called "Interim Chair" of the GPT Steering Committee, the Table's sole decision-making body.
After the usual "progress report," Butler presented a series of lengthy, complicated "Signature Initiatives." Some of these, as presented, are without any "global relevance" whatsoever; others would be tied to that global relevance, apparently, only by placing the word "global" in front of them; and still others would represent our traditional allocations foci reduced now to one or two of many other allocations choices.
You might want some examples: Family and Children's Services, or Elder Services and "other social services" would fall under the rubric of "Caring for Vulnerable Populations;" there would be a "Leadership Development Initiative" that would include something called "Building Community Capacity," and Leadership Development, Promoting Innovation and "Security and Safety." None of these relate to our Global needs nor to what was represented until now -- three years after the GPT was first conjured -- these are not "Global" in any way.
And, there might be a "Global Jewish Platform" -- "a virtual space to cultivate and inspire Jewish innovation and encourage global communication." (No, I am not making any of this up.)
Oh,yes, as a sop to those who still care, there, right where our core allocations once were, will be a "Strengthening Israel" Initiative that would include, by the way, Aliyah and Absorption, Civil Society/Civil Rights and Social/economic gaps. And, there would be an initiative on Building Jewish Identity and Connections that would directly engage with Jewish Education, Camping and Retreats, "Immersive Travel Experiences" and "Global Connections."
Yesterday, as luck would have it, Chair Butler discussed the December GPT Committee meeting that followed these Webinars. You would want to know that in January "...[T]his initial (emphasis his for some reason), high level, prioritization process will continue at the January meeting...to be completed in February." And, then, "Commissions" (as distinguished apparently from Work Groups and Subcommittees) will be set up...And, at that same meeting on December 17, we are told
"The GPT meeting also included an in-depth discussion of proposed Signature Initiatives. Signature Initiatives will provide opportunities for Federations to give what are hoped to be additional targeted dollars to bold, high impact programs that address some of our most critical issues. With many great ideas under discussion, the GPT worked to narrow its focus to 3 or 4 “finalists,” so that planning work can be done to develop approaches to the programs and budgets of the finalists, before choosing one or two initiatives for implementation efforts in the coming year."
Yep, the GPT'ers have convinced themselves that have put forward (see above) "bold, high impact programs that address some of our most critical issues." And, now, as we hold our collective breath "...over the next eight weeks, the GPT will be focused on a nation-wide roll out of its community input process." (I don't know who is writing this stuff...but, G-d bless 'em.) And, by this time next month you and yours will have a "Community Toolkit" containing all sorts of stuff apparently and totally designed to influence if not dictate your federation's decisions the end result of will be, with 157 federations inputting, a few of which will be funding these things, there will be an Integrated Plan by March 2013. Rube Goldberg is alive and well and residing at 25 Broadway, New York, NY.
How would these be funded? Easy, participating Large Cities would fund $1.5 million ($500,000 per year for three years) for each initiative --everybody else, whatever or, perhaps, nothing. And, where would federations, in the main, find that funding -- if the past is prologue, straight out of the current core allocations to the Joint and Jewish Agency and World ORT. If the professional leaders of those organizations were on those Webinars, I would guess that they were bringing in their fund raisers before the Webinars were even over.
These "Initiatives" will be finalized only if "we are sure" -- "we" apparently meaning, Manning, Barth and, maybe, Butler -- that they are "bold," "high impact" and "designed to increase excitement and giving." Uh, huh, if you say so.
After these things were rolled out, having never been heard of before, the Chairman (uh, Butler, not Manning) with a sense of great excitement asked: "Which of these Initiatives would be most important to your communities?" Dead silence. "You must have some comments." Dead silence. Finally an intelligent federation pro suggested that the participants (who on that first call numbered almost no federation lay leaders and few federations at all) needed some time to consider. So, Ms. Manning offered her comments -- all positive, of course -- and the priorities as she has pre-determined them to be.
Michael and Dede, the Global Planning Table is a process, if one can even call it that, that was out of control and is now off the tracks. No organization can tolerate two governance processes. There appears to be no institutional control of this multi-million dollar extravaganza and no professional able or willing to maintain the institutional discipline required to rein in those who continue to drive this train toward the cliff to which it is headed. Millions have already been invested/wasted and more will follow unless you step in and take control. The first step must be for Michael to become the "Interim Chair" of the GPT; from there all else follows.
Please act quickly. If you are looking for JFNA's credibility, search no further than down the black hole that the Global Planning Table has dug. The seeds of federation deconstruction from the GPT are already planted.