I often wonder if in addition to the important JFNA roles as Sr. V-P Protecting the Brand, Sr. V-P Employee Titles and Most Sr. V-P Explaining What Jerry Really Meant, there is someone at 25 Broadway with the title and heavy responsibility as Really Sr. V-P in Charge of Wasting Lay Leaders Time. That takes us to what will be lengthy program/table discussions during the upcoming Board meetings on how to change JFNA's Governance.
How is the contemplated intense discussion described in the Memo from Board Chair Siegal outlining the session? "...[W]e would like to take advantage of being together at the GA and obtain a broad swath of input..." (Who really talks like that?) Yes, a "broad swath" -- that means, quite simply, a "row of grass" or "a broad strip or area of something." Exactly.
What's proposed: getting rid of the Chair of the Executive; getting rid of the Delegate Assembly; apportioning voting rights and changing the make-up of the JFNA Executive Committee. Now these could probably all have been placed on some form of Consent Agenda given the manner in which most of the "questions" have been framed for "discussion;" but let's look them over as if they were each worthy of intense table discussions and reporting out the "swath."
1. We don't need the Delegate Assembly as it was "envisioned as a venue for meaningful engagement" which, today, "takes place at the Board, Executive Committee and some of the committees of the Board." Sure it does. Anyway, its "anachronistic." What might be added is the following language: "it has become anachronistic because we made it so." Real engagement is dangerous.
2. We don't need the Chair of the Executive because this Chair doesn't do anything. That's my conclusion; you may reach your own. There have been terrific Chairs of the Executive -- Sonny Plant, z'l, and Kathy Manning come to mind as having taken on major assignments and influenced policy (in the latter case, influenced it in the wrong direction) -- and others who mainly just took the job and effectively disappeared. None understood that they were responsible for oversight of JFNA operations (as opposed to policy).
3. The Executive Committee is too big -- mainly because so many CEOs are invited to "sit in" with their lay leaders. There are too many opportunities to breach the cherished "rules of confidentiality" and it's just too damned big. Let's cut it back to 4 CEOs, the Board Chair and Kathy Manning and we'll be just fine (especially if we cut out the Board Chair as well).
4. Now that we're ridding ourselves of the Delegate Assembly "anachronism," let's apportion votes on the Board by some formula or another. Discuss and report.
There is clearly something to be said for a total lack of institutional memory -- now it is not just of UJA and CJF -- it includes any memory of the merger or of JFNA's own history.
Have a great "swath of conversation" or go out for a cup of coffee and some fedovation.