Monday, June 2, 2014


The votes are being tallied, but there is no doubt of the outcome. JFNA more or less had an open process in approving an as-yet-unknown contract extension for Jerry Silverman (many who tried to ask questions were precluded) this morning.

A small -- 7 person as it turned out -- group of lay leaders (we learned on the JFNA Board call that three additional leaders [Harvey Barnett, Jodi Schwartz and Joel Tauber] joined the Compensation Committee in evaluating Silverman's past, present and future) at JFNA determined that Jerry Silverman should be retained as CEO and granted a contract extension. Best I can tell, the same small group will now "negotiate" his extension. My hope -- that this ridiculous extension not exceed six months at one-half the prior year's compensation while an extensive search for Jerry's successor moves forward. But, that's just me. 

Listening to Michael present JFNA's "successes" under Silverman's leadership, I have to admit that that's a person whose contract I too would like to see extended -- of course, the "Jerry" that Michael was describing -- this successful, driven executive who has accomplished so much and positioned JFNA so perfectly -- was fictional Jerry not real Jerry. I (and those of you who e-mailed and texted me during the Board meeting with comments ranging from "retch" to "OMG" and far worse) found most laughable the attribution to Jerry the hiring of "new key senior staff" when, in fact, the most "key" were those pushed upon him by the highest levels of lay leadership and the suggestion that Jerry's success as a fund-raising partner (with e.g., Chicago where he has had one real success) to be worthy of this position where he has continued the deconstruction of JFNA as an entity dedicated to FRD. 

When a respected federation leader posed a serious question, the answer was so preposterous as to perpetuate the farce that is this extension. And, as Michael Siegal dutifully and enthusiastically read the supportive script, I hope he did so with a straight face -- but none of us were fooled.

Earlier this morning ejewishphilanthropy published a post from http// written by a professional from outside the federation movement titled Clueless CEOs -- Barriers to Growth. I would commend it to JFNA leadership but while I know they can read, I question their ability to comprehend. The author, Roger Craver, concludes that "[S]tagnant organizations are generally marked by lousy boards and clueless, or worse, arrogant CEOs." Craver's conclusions are then supported by data. It is a certainty that those JFNA leaders who support this extension are more than willing even enthusiastic about ignoring all evidence of the collapse of JFNA under the current and, now, future, chief professional officer.

That Jerry Silverman is getting a contract extension isn't so much news as it is a reminder of the upside-down priorities (or is it the total lack of priorities) of an organization that has made the federations look like an after-thought since Silverman was hired. Prior to this small group's decision to extend the original hiring mistake, and not for the first time, I am certain that Silverman had his minions prepare tens of "white papers" containing all kinds of programs for which JFNA has neither the capacity nor the ability to fund or implement as if Jerry had an organizational epiphany. But, if this quartet of lay people really thought these through and placed them side-by-side with JFNA's lack of accomplishments over Silverman's almost five years, they would see an organization without focus or purpose, pin-balling from side-to-side but never forward. And, it is this we reward?

When, with almost unanimity, the then leaders of JFNA agreed that its first CEO must go, he went, succeeded by Steve Hoffman. When Hoffman's successor finally wore out even his lay leadership by the end of his term, his contract was not renewed. But, here at the end of Silverman's term, when this so-called "lay leadership quartet" should and must know that JFNA has only gone backward as a vehicle for and of the federations, somehow they have determined that an extension is somehow "warranted?" 



"Dear Trustees,

We are pleased to report that the JFNA Board of Trustees voted overwhelmingly today to authorize the JFNA Compensation Committee to act on Jerry Silverman’s reengagement as JFNA’s President & CEO.

We thank those who were able to join us on the call and to all of you for your input and support.

Michael D. Siegal
Chair, JFNA Board of Trustees
Oh, and there was this P.S. -- "For the first time votes were weighted; New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Cleveland had all of them"



Anonymous said...

"the best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity"
W. B. Yeats

Anonymous said...


That was the most ridiculous Board meeting in which I have participated. Everyone who was on the call and who has been exposed to Silverman as CEO knows, as apparently Michael Siegal was willing to ignore, that Silverman has failed every test of leadership of our system. Not only does he have no credibility, like a virus, now Siegal has none with me or my community,

Anonymous said...

I only now know the 3 new members of the Compensation Committee, not sure who the other 4 are.
But I would be interested to see how many members of this committee are on the list of the members of the Search Committee who hired Jerry.
Just curious.

Anonymous said...

The Compensation Committee is made up of the 2 Chairs, the National Campaign Chair and the Treasure, the other three are leaders added in by, apparently, Michael Siegal (or Steve Hoffman)

Anonymous said...

Doesn't a joke of an organization merit a joke as CEO and, as of right now, Board Chair?

Anonymous said...

Richard,Joel Tauber? Wasn't he a JFNA Co-Chair who chose the first CEO and was nowhere to be found when that CEO had to be let go? Now he is chosen to participate in this fiasco? Perfect.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, this is nothing new for JFNA or UJC. Typical corporate shananigans.

Hundreds of hard working and productive rank and file workers have been laid off over the past 5-6, often in shocking fashion.

Meanwhile, the CEOS and other leading members of management have raked it in over the years, when instead they should be sent to the cleaners. They must be learning from Jaime Dimon over at Chase.

Anonymous said...

Richard, Perhaps you saw The Daily Show last night in which Jon Stewart, in a segment titled "The Clown Car Returns," prayed for Herman Cain to run for President once again. I bet in your heart of hearts you were praying for JFNA to extend Silverman's contract to give you years more of Posts. Admit it.