Tuesday, October 14, 2014


It must be reassuing to retiring  federation CEOs (whatever the cause might be) that, if they behaved themselves within the frat house (that is showing appropriate deference to their fraternity brothers), there will be opportunities aplenty for them in the outside world. Examples abound, let me offer two:

  1. Ted. A prodigious and creative fund raiser, he raised his community to heights never before experienced maybe never even imagined over a lifetime with the same community, many as CEO. With superb professional partners, he built a great staff and with great lay leadership led one successful campaign after another. Then, for reasons we are not to know, all of a sudden, he retired or "was retired." But, never fear, he is now working for the Jewish Agency where he will bring his fund raising skills to bear on the Government of Israel/World Jewry Initiative. Maybe he will be able to explain why JFNA is not doing so; maybe he will explain why/how the GOI "management" of this "Initiative" will be a good thing. Or maybe not. Good luck, Ted.
  2. Max. Then, one of JFNA's greatest cheerleaders among the federation CEOs, the long-time professional leader in MetroWest, retired after working side-by-side with some of our system's greatest lay leaders from that community  in building a formidable federation. I love Max so much, having worked with him often in the UJA days and into the merger, that a few years ago I offered him the CEO position with JAFI North America, knowing of his commitment to collective responsibility and the core of both JAFI/JDC. He considered the offer before deciding (wisely as it turned out) to remain at the helm in MetroWest. I never perceived Max to be the fund raiser that Ted is, or that many of his fellow CEOs are/were but, great public supporter that he was of every cockamamie JFNA scheme (you could always count on Max to stand at the microphone and applaud anything and everything), after the most brief of retirements, Max has been retained (at what cost, we will probably never know) by CEO I-Don't-Have-Time-To-Raise-Money (just what does Silverman do, one might ask?) to spearhead raising money from within the federations for those moribund "Signature Initiatives" and, no doubt, for the National Holocaust Initiative (another $60 million funding scheme that, even with a great Chair in Mark Wilf, seems to fit no priority at JFNA) and who knows what else. Good luck, Max, you will need it.
Yes, I wish them both well. 

We should all be thrilled, just really thrilled, that our system is such that a retired federation CEO will always resurface somewhere -- JFNA anyone? Some of us recall when JFNA's first CEO/President was gift-wrapped by UJA-Federation of New York and delivered with the "hire me" sign around his neck to JFNA's doorstep clearing the path for John Ruskay's impressive decade and one-half Presidency. Then, after Steve Hoffman returned to his sinecure as the Cleveland CEO with all kinds of compensation from JFNA, he was succeeded, by the demand of the LCE, by the recently retired Pittsburgh CEO, Howard Rieger, for his four years of futility. 

Now, the paradigm of "outside the box" futility, allegedly directing the expenditure of $20 million a year on FRD (!!), and not wishing to dirty his hands on raising money for the GPT (if the effort fails, he might get blamed), hires a freshly retired LCE CEO to fund raise in his stead. There must be some gratification, must there not be, on the part of CEOs everywhere, that the old, old boys network, assuring full employment post-retirement, continues -- maybe that's one way CEO Jerry keeps the CEO community "happy;" it sure can't be the way he is not doing his job.

At the end of the day, my friends, while I can tell you what the predecessors as JFNA CEO did or didn't do, can you tell me what Jerry actually does? Can anyone? Can Michael Siegal do so with a straight face? Can Siegal look at himself in the mirror with any sense of pride and tell just himself "I have done the right thing"? Are they really going to extend this guy's contract? Have they already?

If any of this makes sense, please let me know. If it makes no sense, as I believe, let Michael Siegal know.



paul jeser said...

Richard - it'd be interesting to see where many of the former UJA z'l /UJC/JFNA and Federation top staff are now (other national/international organizations/agencies).

Anonymous said...

Richard, There are other "old boys" in recirculation. For example, there is Jonathan Woocher, who after the collapse of JESNA, found a brand new home as President of the Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation (does the name "Kanfer" ring a bell?). Nice for him; or John Fishel at some LA Foundation. And, surely many more; many, many more.

Anonymous said...

It's just like any other corrupt corporation. The CEOs get golden parachutes while the rank and file employees get the pink slip.

Would be nice to know the total # of UJA/CJF/UJC/JFNA employees let go on their (gold, no doubt) watch. A total shanda.

Anonymous said...

You're forgetting something Siegel DID do in his term - one of the first things - reduced the cost of employees' benefits by devaluing the pension plan. Nice job by a fine lay leader who has never addressed the staff in any way - not in person, not in a letter - nothing. And you all just let it happen. Your hurt egos are not the only casualties in this.

Anonymous said...

None of us will ever know if there was a strategy in place at JFNA to fire or force out of positions a number of high level JFN professionals in order to create service gaps that would then be filled by retired federation CEOs. Clearly Silverman keeps his job, in part or large measure, by keeping LCEs "happy" while he himself goes about negligently destroying the system. Keep those guys happy at all costs; tghat's the way.

Anonymous said...

If Michael Siegal did as the Comment suggested -- devaluing employees' pension plan, then, shame on him (1) for doing so and (2) for not knowing what the proper role of a Board Chair is. And, if he did so, and the CEO did nothing to protect the organization's employees, then that offers at least one reason that Siegal supports Silverman's continuing role -- the guy will do whatever Siegal tells him to.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a mistake to accuse the organization or individuals of "devaluing" the pension plan unless there is firm evidence that this actually happened. How was it devalued? Did past employees end up with less benefits than they should have? Did current employees end up with less future benefits than they originally thought they would get? If so, how was that done? did the plan change from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan? I am sure there are many other questions that need to be asked before we can assume that a plan was "devalued". We can't just base the allegation on the fact that the cost was lowered. Richard, do you have any information or evidence that the plan was devalued? If not these kinds of comments should not appear in the blog in my opinion.