Well, the gang that couldn't shoot straight has seemingly misfired once again -- this time in its engagement of a new chief of marketing and communications. And this is not because of anything the new hire did or didn't do while in a bigger role on a bigger stage at AIPAC, her former employer, but because of her lack of any federation experience whatsoever.
Yes, I'm certain that Renee Rothstein is a quick study...but who is she to learn from at that barren desert that is JFNA when it comes to having a federation background or experience. If she relies on the CEO to explain federation qua federation to her, it will be no more than the blind leading the blind. If she was hired to continue down the path of her predecessor -- that is to promote JFNA and JFNA only at the federations' expense -- then, really, and with respect, who needs her at the assuredly high salary she will receive.
What is so apparent is that what is needed at JFNA is a federation-centric head of its marketing and communications effort (actually in every failed area of its work). That would mean finding the right person -- one who has had a significant federation background in his/her resume. Back in the day, at UJA, at the time we decided to engage in the first major national marketing and communications effort, we engaged the outstanding Bernie Moscovitz, whose exemplary and creative marketing leadership at the Montreal Federation was the perfect background to communicate, inter alia, the annual campaign to and for federations. Bernie was succeeded by the terrific Gail Hyman, whose marketing and communication skills were honed as the Senior V-P, Marketing and Communications with the New York UJA-Federation and led JFNA's efforts in its first six years.
What Bernie and Gail had, among other skills and abilities, was the knowledge to say to a CEO before the organization proceeded down the wrong path: "Maybe we should rethink this...how will this help the federations?" How, exactly, will this new and important hire do that exactly? Is this how the next major JFNA hires -- of a COO and a head of FRD -- will go down? Plucked from outside our system with no professional experience in it by a CEO whose own contract expires in months not years?
I sense that the senior professionals at JFNA are excited at the prospect of Renee Rothstein joining them. I hope they are rewarded for their optimism.