Wednesday, May 28, 2014


As I ponder the title I chose for this Post, I realize it could pertain to so many things at JFNA. Among them:

  • The merger itself
  • A succession of failed albeit experienced CEOs
  • Chairs with their own agendas demanding absolute personal fealty
  • One Chair who believed her agenda trumped those of the federations
  • The selection of Mr. "Outside the Box" as CEO/President
  • Chairs who know the meaning of leadership but fail to lead
  • The abandonment of those of our People most in need
  • The insatiable demand for Dues with almost no return on investment
There are no doubt more but, for the moment, these will do. But the Blog received the following anonymously days ago:
"Hey Michael and Dede, 
Not to pick on JFNA but the one thing most appropriate for a national organization to produce would be an intelligent and serious quality piece explaining the Federation model to new and old constituencies. The article could elucidate our approach to a global Jewish community and annual giving while recognizing the 21st century changes and realities head on. It's time to reconnect!" 
Unfortunately the Co-Chairs to whom this was addressed -- two wonderful lay persons who may not have anticipated the woeful organizational state they would inherit from the pathetic lay leadership who preceded them -- don't believe that they have the power to direct or do anything. So they do nothing. Leaders in attendance at the GPT meeting two weeks ago expressed "astonishment" at the lack of substantive input by the JFNA Board Chair.

Friends who have informed this Post have told me that these two leaders had been promised support and cooperation from a significant body of lay leadership who offered them just those two things, along with their congratulatory messages upon Michael's and Dede's nomination. Instead, at every turn, as Michael has wanted to institute real change at JFNA, he has been blocked. Yes, blocked by his predecessor who feared that her "legacy" (the GPT, and, of course, CEO Thank-You-Ma'am-May-I-Have-Another) would be lost and by those that she could rally to her side. And, having been blocked, Michael just backed away.

But, really, the final nails in the coffin of this iteration of a continental system have been hammered home over the last five years -- really since Jerry Silverman was plucked from the obscurity of a small national agency, anointed CEO (and President, of course) and ever since has performed without purpose or supervision ever since. Silverman quickly developed a thin skin and a sense of entitlement; masked behind a rictus grin is the real persona evidenced at Senior Management Team meetings. With the retirement of Sam Astrof as COO/CFO there have been growing inadequacies in program monitoring and fiscal oversight that promise more problems in the future -- if there is a future.

A friend recently wrote to me that "in a normal organization, you don't get fired for being wrong, you get fired for being stupid." At our JFNA you don't get fired for being wrong or stupid, you get a contract extension.



Anonymous said...

Seems to me the time for alternative action has arrived:
*create an alternative fiscal agent for the transfer of overseas funds
*retain a small talented Pool of consultants with federation bonifides
*organize and promote a Focused conference/consultation on "the future of Federation in the 21st century", leading to action steps.
The talent is there, the raison d'ĂȘtre exists, can a will to action follow?

Anonymous said...

The problem with what anonymous #1 suggests is Hoffman, Nasatir and Ruskay will block.

That's it. Next topic.

Lke post title, all meaningful discussion DOA.

Anonymous said...

John is retiring. Nasiter has no taste for a battle. And Hoffman can only operate in closed rooms that allow him in. A dozen independent federations going on there own would be no worse off than staying and complaining in whispers. Even deferring the first two suggestions of anonymous , a consultation of the willing and disgusted can move the needle.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Not being on the Executive Committee, I am not aware of the process of extending contracts for senior management.
Is there any kind of 'case presentation' as to why Jerry's contract should be extended?
Something like, "Here are the 5 things that Jerry has accomplished over the last 5 years that have made JFNA a stronger organization, and the 'place to be' for young Jewish Communal Professionals. And 1 or 2 things that have made the Federations stronger than they were before Jerry took over?"
Shouldn't it be mandatory for a Case to be made for his (or any JFNA CEO's) contract extension?
What is the 'process'?
By the way, when Jerry took office, one of the goals he stated to the JFNA Staff was, in fact, to make JFNA 'the place to be for Jewish Communal Professionals'.
Does anyone in the Jewish Communal World think that JFNA is that place to be?
I wonder how Jerry would answer that question.
But then, I doubt if anyone will ask.