Saturday, June 8, 2013


Recently, responding to a question in one of my Posts, an insightful Commentator responded:
"You ask where are the CEO's of our best federations? The answer is right there letting it happen. Because a weak JFNA serves them well. There is no ROI for any of them for JFNA to develop strong, solid leadership."
I don't agree and I want to explain why.

It's in the interests of the Federation CEOs to have a strong and purposeful, federation-centric national organization. What we have now, anything but, means that the best of the CEOs have to take time from their own communal focus on FRD and community-building to time and again rescue JFNA from itself -- unfortunately, at the most critical times, when the federations (not JFNA) needed help with JFNA, JFNA was MIA. 

I know what the federation CEOs wanted from the merger -- we worked together to create a structure that would respond to federations' needs. Many, many times I would turn to a Rieger (yes, back then Howard was an incredible team player and leader) or a Hoffman, a Ruskay or a Fine or Fishel for advice and counsel and assistance -- and constantly to my professional partner in Chicago, Steve Nasatir. Sadly, post-merger they have failed to recognize that neither the emergent JFNA lay leadership (some of whom have come from their own communities) nor, worse, the handing of the baton of professional leadership to those who would prove incapable of leading this complex organization would create a  national organization not as they envisioned -- and they have taken a hands-off approach that doesn't "serve them (or us) well" -- just the opposite in fact.

One example of many: when Manning was the incoming Chair, she ordained herself as the Search Committee Chair in the pursuit of a new CEO. On it were many seasoned lay leaders from across the spectrum of City sizes -- and most, if not all, were also totally submissive to Kathy's demands and wants. And, what she wanted most at that time was a new professional leader, a "partner," who would know less than she about federation qua federation, and, therefore, was from "outside the box." This was just the choice that at the time of the merger itself Steve Hoffman had rejected outright, when he told one of my dear friends (a federation leader who was supporting someone from outside the professional cadre): "That will never happen." This time, Manning did a superb job of co-opting the federation lay leaders on the Committee (her greatest strength) with a candidate from outside the system who "gave great interview." And so these federation lay persons went back to their federation CEOs and announced, "we have our man" in advance leaving them in the dust -- the same place they have been for most of the past almost four years.

So what has happened? New JFNA lay Chairs arrive and for every question they have themselves or receive from others they turn to the JFNA CEO, who barely understands the question yet just blatantly makes up an answer. Were they to turn, instead, to their own federation chief professional, the answers they would get would at the least be based on accumulated experience. When these Chairs return to those who have raised questions with the "answers" they have received from CEO Jerry or his minions, that's the end of it, no matter that our leaders are then told they are wrong and given the facts to prove it.

More's the pity. If the current Chairs, no longer new to the enterprise, both knowing that so much is wrong at the organization, do not act and act now, there is no real hope that JFNA can be lifted up, back on the tracks, moving forward as it could, as it should, as it must.



Anonymous said...

Hope these so called "leaders" pay close attention to the JESNA news release announcing its July 31 demise. Can/should JFNA be far behind?

RWEX said...

The sad end of JESNA is a reflection of what happens when our national organization no longer pays any attention to its responsibilities. I'll have plenty to say on the subject in the weeks ahead.

Anonymous said...

There is a JFNA angle and culpability in the JESNA demise. However other factors are also in play including the downside of having a supposedly charismatic and iconic CEO and his decision to hitch the agencies future to the ever fickle foundation sector and pursue a national agenda at the expense of serving agencies at the grass roots.

Anonymous said...

The trouble with you and your pals Ruskay, Nasatir, etc. is that you're engaging in "old think". Once your kind are replaced by shiny new "out of the box" execs, the system will be "in alignment". Everyone will appreciate Jerry and Kathy and the future will be glorious.

RWEX said...


Anonymous said...

The problem is less "old think" than, what has Silverman accomplished in the last three years? The answer, nothing.

A failure is a failure' "old" or "new"think".