Saturday, November 16, 2013


There was a time when I thought "well, at least I understand what's going on at JFNA." And...then I didn't...not at all.

Case in point -- training and mentoring new Federation CEOs and the best and brightest inside our system and those with aspirations from outside. First, there was FEREP, created under CJF, offering scholarships to the best of our young aspirants. Then there was the failed program to better train the best of Federation young professionals for their ultimate goal -- to become a federation CEO. Wonderful goals -- but the participants soon learned that many of those put in the program by their CEOs had no interest in the ultimate position; others were in because their federations demanded "positions" in the program. The best and brightest were often frustrated, the professionals within JFNA leading the professional development program soon left and this program disappeared without a trace -- but for a periodic "reunion".

In an internal JFNA document that is designed to list the ways in which JFNA IS "Serving the Federation Movement," here is how JFNA itself defines its Talent Acquisition Services" -- note the "ranking:"
"For Federations with CEO and senior professional openings the Mandel Center identifies highly qualified non-traditional, 'out of the box' candidates from the profit and nonprofit sectors, as well as outstanding performers from within the Federation movement."
The results, as they say, speak for themselves.

Then, there's JFNA's  mentoring of new and sitting CEOs. Three cases of many: one received a "training book," and not even a phone call; another was "assigned" a mentor, who wasn't aware of the assignment; a brilliant student of our system was told by JFNA staff that he/she would be hearing from a new Large City CEO who needed some FRD mentoring -- never heard a word, phone calls to the CEO not returned. I read somewhere that JFNA had "delegated" its responsibilities for professional training and mentoring to the Mandel Center for Excellence; I don't know what the Center is doing; I just know what JFNA isn't.

I do know this, led by the Charles and Andrea Bronfman Philanthropies, new and prospective Federation CEOs will be trained and mentored through the efforts of leading foundations. Yes, the mega-foundations have determined they need to step into the void created by JFNA's inattention and they will. G-d bless these philanthropists for recognizing a priority -- one of the highest. But, this assumption of a systemic priority by those outside of our system creates a real question -- what the hell is JFNA doing with its budget, with our funds? 



Anonymous said...

Isn't it evident what they are doing with our funds? Let me count the ways. 1. Tribefest. 2. A GA that probably loses more than a $1 million. 3. How many extraneous people are working in the Israel office and at what cost? 4. CEO - Jerry Silverman's compensation and then some. 5) The GPT that is going nowhere at the cost of millions. 6. consultants who do nothing or certainly don't add any value to the organization. Feel free to add to the list.

Anonymous said...

The best evidence of how "Lost" JFNA is is found in the "big ideas" thrown at the wall during the GA -- a $1 billion Special Campaign? JFNA can't run a $1 campaign. Triple the numbers at Jewish camps? Is this our federations priority? Meanwhile federations have lost 2/3rds of our donors since JFNA was formed -- focus on that?? Nope.

We're lost alright.

Anonymous said...

You have cited all the reasons that an organization that has fallen this far will probably renew Silverman's contract -- it is so lost it thinks bottom is the top.

Anonymous said...

I am a professional toiling in the field. I can tell you from personal experience that JFNA placement services are without any value -- they don't seek us out (even those who have contacted them to advise them of our interest), we have to call and call again; their evaluations are totally subjective; and often biased. But, like so much else, their efforts are centered in Cleveland (and that says it all).