Wednesday, November 5, 2014


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.



Anonymous said...

This is the do nothing, be nothing, most wasteful non-profit in NA. What else would you expect them to spend time on other than a session on "how do we put ourselves out of the misery we have created?"

Anonymous said...

Actually the entire GA program is "filler." And the Chairs represented that this GA would be dedicated to the federations and their work. It's a cynical joke on the federations.

Anonymous said... this respondents opinion, seriously think that there needs to be a punch not a push for federation personnel development today and not tomorrow. A lot of this calamity has to do with professionals who don't understand the core objective of Federation and the system. The filling of roles without the preparation, perspective, context and training has traumatized our once cherished system. A system that could articulate focus and results. The development of pros who understand the distinctive mission of federation, the dynamics of community organization and stewardship, the importance of the lay-pro partnerships, the specialization and general practice skills, planning and managing strategy, etc etc is so much of the foundation of where we were and where we need to be....... pros, at all levels, are the guardians of the ethos and the mission. Lay leadership are integral. That said, the pros are the continuous variable that has been undersold and under tended to. Federation ism is a distinct skill set. And, a dying one. This is not the total answer but a pretty big component of success. If not discussed at ga sessions, punch this home in the hallways of the GA........sadly, the experiment of placing good people who are ill prepared for Federation professionalism continues fruitless results. Another ill prepared LCE gone.

Anonymous said...

Why are we surprised when Jerry Silverman after 6 years at the helm of JFNA, does not possess any of the knowledge that the last Anonymous articulated?
Jerry, and he has pontificated to both JFNA staff and federation leadership during his 500 visits to communities, is the ultimate 'seller', which means he inherently knows his customers, and what they need.
When at Dockers, according to Jerry, once the needs were known, he could then tailor his product line that he pitched his customers.
How this never translated to his role at JFNA is anyone's guess.
But one thing is clear: With a $30 million budget, JFNA is not delivering anything close to what the federations need.
Then again, in 4 years, the compensation committee will award him another 5 years.

Marley's Ghost meets Kathy's Dybbyk said...

It would be interesting, no downright enlightening, if our friend at E-Jewish philanthropy sponsored a juried symposium entitled, "Once there was a Federation...". Contributors would be asked to comment in 500 words or less on what the strategic uniqueness of Federations was, is and still might be; how privatization through foundations has impacted the model; the role Israel and global efforts do or do not anchor our future success; and whether a commitment to broad institutional health competes with or reinforces the nice feel good programs that JFNA loves to highlight. Maybe we should be producing a morality play where our story's protagonist is visited by three apparitions - the ghosts of federation past, present and what yet might be but need not be. God bless us everyone.