Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I have been observing JFNA's new Chairs and, for the first time in over six years, I have to say I have some hope that, with Spring, hope is also in the air. All of you who have been reading my lamentations these past 900 (+/-) Posts know that, like one of the interviewees in the wonderful Oscar-nominated docu-drama "NO," I possess "...a learned hopelessness" when it comes to JFNA. So why my muted optimism now?
  1. The new Chairs came into their offices driven by a single desire -- to reframe JFNA as an organization capable of providing direct benefits to the federations. Unlike the last six-plus years, these leaders sense that they were elected to drive that agenda, not their personal agendas;
  2. They understand that  JFNA can no longer be about itself -- marketing itself, communicating about itself -- but about the federations, the owners;
  3. Unlike the last two Board Chairs, Michael Siegal comes from one of the strongest federation environments, one where process and building consensus in the best interests of community and donors trumps the cult of the personality where the Chair dictates to staff and followship or vice-versa;
  4. From what I have heard and observed, these leaders are asking thright questions of their fellow lay leaders and professionals from around the country before framing their conclusions;
Something has gone terribly wrong at JFNA. While the CEO has made the rounds of federation after federation after federation, the organization he ostensibly runs grows more and more disappointedly disconnected from the federations which own JFNA. Were JFNA an actor in an old Western, they would be led into a box canyon time and time again in one continuous act of futility after another -- with not an apparent peep from anyone. When was the last time (or, for the first time) that Federation leaders, publicly or, if they prefer, in private, sat with Silverman and asked the simple questions:
  1. What is your vision for JFNA?
  2. What are the means to achieving that vision?
  3. How do the programs you  have the organization pursuing achieve our purposes? How do they help grow our federations?
And, then, as in the best  organizations, challenge the answers that, if a legacy of this CEO's public and private statements are any guide, will be nothing more than a collection of jargon and cliches. And, then, do what they deem best for JFNA's present and future.

It would amaze me (and shatter any hope that I have for the future of this iteration of JFNA) if these Chairs do not refocus our organization on its purposes, on the goals we had for it 12+ years ago.

Then, again....



Anonymous said...

They also be must be willing to rock the boat which includes (at times) bucking those federation CEO's who are quite content to leave JFNA in a continually weakened state for their own purposes.

Anonymous said...

A suggestion: In early 2O14 close shop at JFNA for a month and send all staff, CEO on down, to work in a community.