Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Yes, her fingerprints remain on everything that has gone wrong at JFNA. I won't go through the litany of failures once again -- you know them as well as I. Like the President she holds in such awe, the promise of home runs for Obama in foreign policy has given way at the White House to the fiction that there have been singles and doubles, at JFNA they can't even been able to get to first base...on anything. 

And the 2014 Terrorists' War on Israel -- oh, that one interfered with her plans for the takeover of JFNA by her treasured Global Planning Table; fund-raising for the hallowed "Initiatives," if any was swallowed up in Federations' commitment to emergency funding our work in Israel. She lives in what must be a hall of mirrors, each one reflecting only her visage holding the framing documents of the GPT. That's how she came to her Chair-ship at JFNA; that's how she conducted her Chair-ship; and that's how she elected herself the critical person at her disastrous creation, the Global Planning Table. In those fun-house mirrors that distort the real image so badly she sees herself, and we see her, as the indispensable person in an organization she has made dispensable.

As we all know, I am talking about Kathy Manning. This is a tribute to the brilliance of her use of her leadership roles to promote herself and those who would be totally supportive of her without question, and she, whose brilliant manipulation of JFNA's governance positioned herself, even after her years as the failed Chair of the JFNA Executive and then Board Chair, to be at the top of a food chain that she and she alone created while others merely sat by and let her do so...and they are still doing so. Quite frankly, while I and a few others had seen through this manipulation, this charade, from the beginning, I am in awe of Kathy. As they say: "if only she had dedicated herself to doing good."

The two (and as she left her Board Chair position she could name only two, by the way) seminal "events" of her many -- too many -- years in leadership of JFNA were: (1) the hiring of Jerry Silverman; and (2) the creation of the Global Planning Table. In reality, these "triumphs" have tolled the death knell for JFNA as an institution in service to the federations. I hear the bells ringing as I write this. 

In demanding the hire of Jerry  Silverman, she broke the hegemony of the Large City Executives, which arguably might have been a good thing for the system; but she hired someone so lacking in understanding federations and so unable to gain that knowledge after five years, as to turn the continental organization on its head, serving only its own interests. Oh, and, of course, hiring as CEO and President one who would be her foil in her tunnel-visioned approach to the GPT, the federations and our historic partners (with which neither Kathy nor Jerry were the least bit familiar) be damned.

Those who challenged or raised questions about the abuses of governance and process and/or the black hole that the Global Planning Table would and has become, were "off the team," relegated to outsider status or, for some of us, a walk in azazel (not that it's such a horrible place to be). Those who wanted to find a new CEO were disabused of the notion by those who remained in Kathy's thrall even after she no longer occupied the JFNA Chair. (One of my favorite observations was at a Jewish Agency Board meeting, shortly after the installation of Michael Siegal and Dede Feinberg, where the bima was set with seats for JFNA's Co-Chairs and the Keren Ha'Yesod Chair along with JAFI leaders and Kathy merely preempted one of the JFNA Co-Chair's seats because she could. [I am certain that Ms. Manning has no recollection of the preemption].) Follow this now: If Silverman were gone and, then, the GPT failed, as it has, then she had no "accomplishments" (not that Jerry's retention is much if any of an accomplishment, if any) whatsoever.

Now, return to the Global Planning Table. At every Regional Meeting called to discuss JFNA's so-called "options" for the GPT...there was really just one...the "plan" that was put on the table by the consultant and Silverman, was actively and vigorously rejected -- as an abandonment of the core value of collective responsibility, an abandonment of the system's historic partners and as nothing more than a gilded ONAD, the failure of JFNA's first five years. This rejection came not from the mouths of the naysayers; it was a global rejection from federation lay and professional leaders of every City-size and across the Continent. So, what happened? You know. Absolutely nothing -- it was as if the Regional Meetings were but a speed bump to be run over at mach speed (as was the qualified professional hired to shepherd and reframe the "plan," quitting within 6 months of her hire.) 

This universal rejection, this talk of "red lines that cannot be crossed" was ignored with total impunity and the total silent acquiescence  of all. And once it became evident that the federations were but toothless, the GPT moved inexorably forward until it came up against the stark reality that not even the minimum funding could be reached by JFNA, an organization driven so far from where it was supposed to be that it no longer could raise money for anything, nor could it inspire the federations to goals set by a small elite. In the "process," the GPT has been the institutional equivalent of water-boarding -- torturing a willing system with insufferable pain but ultimately failure.

And that takes us to today. Here is what the Global Planning Table now plans to become:
The Global Planning Table
        Recommended Next Steps for Phase Two

Guiding Rational(e)

We envision the GPT’s work being cyclical, including planning (discussion of pressing needs and promising prospects which the Federation collective could positively affect), program development, program implementation, and impact assessment. During its first three years, the GPT successfully facilitated planning and program development processes; in its second phase, the GPT will focus primarily on implementing the initiatives it shaped, and on assessing the impact of collective funds invested in Israel and overseas. The GPT will also continue to serve as a planning arm for the Federation system, facilitating a next round of planning.

GPT Primary Goals for Phase Two

 Raise funds for and launch implementation of GPT-developed Signature Initiatives (the Israel Children’s Zone and JQuest) and Voluntary Project (iRep).
 Convene and dialogue with local Federations regarding challenges and opportunities around the world.

GPT Functions for Phase Two

The Global Planning Table will (continue to) serve as JFNA’s planning body. As such, it will:

1. Identify opportunities and challenges facing the global Jewish community and develop and implement responses as needed. GPT will remain available to focus on new projects and opportunities, as they are referred to it by the JFNA Board or Executive Committee.
2. Inasmuch as the Israel and Overseas portion of GPT’s work is already moving forward, GPT will develop and implement a process to analyze and assess the impact of collective funds invested in Israel and Overseas through unrestricted and designated allocations, emergency response, and applicable signature initiatives and voluntary projects, working in cooperation with our Partners.
3. Track and analyze Federation allocation trends, needs assessments and other planning-related information, and provide data and analysis to local Federations. Where possible, GPT will convene coalitions to share knowledge and explore opportunities to maximize and leverage investments (e.g., partnerships).
4. GPT’s Partnership Committee will continue its mandate to develop recommendations for an annual allocation of unrestricted funds to our Partners.

These recommendations will be shared with the GPT Committee, which will advance them to JFNA’s Board of Trustees for ratification.


The Global Planning Table will continue to be a freestanding Committee within JFNA, reporting to JFNA’s Board of Trustees."

Now, at its meeting on November 24, there was widespread pushback to this transparent plot to usurp the functions of JFNA, UIA and the federations. One GPT member sent a strong letter of objection. The response from Chair Butler, who was no more present at the meeting (which was run in reported inept fashion by Silverman) than I, was that a strong majority supported the "plan." That was untrue.

Some might believe that this "plan" is the GPT version of the end of the Vietnam War (in more ways than one) -- declaring victory and getting out of Saigon as quickly as possible. You know this -- "Phase 1" was a failure; so let's build on that failure in a Phase 2 -- this is so JFNA. Others, knowing Kathy, Jerry and the claque (as well as the evident weakness of the current Board Chair), see this set of "Next Steps" as the framing document for the Global Planning Table arrogation to itself of the most critical functions that we expected to be those of JFNA itself -- planning (overseas and domestic), fund raising, allocations, advocacy, Israel and Overseas, "new projects and opportunities." To all of this there was strong objection.

Never mind that JFNA's Siegal just named Chicago's David Brown to Chair the Israel and Overseas Department Committee; or that David Butler, the erstwhile GPT Chair after three years of parroting Ms. Manning and fronting the failed, has accepted the role as Chair of JFNA Washington while (currently) continuing to Chair the GPT Committee. The questions now include: will Michael Siegal take charge, bring the GPT into JFNA as what it should be: a subcommittee of Israel/Overseas; name David Brown as the Chair of both; and dissolve the GPT Partnership Committee (that decision-making elite of elites now chaired by Manning) transferring its functions and decision-making to JFNA's Israel Overseas; and thank Kathy Manning for her creativity, tenacity and her leadership. Buh-bye. This would have the effect of JFNA doing what the organization of and for the federations should be doing; and it would retake the powers of JFNA from the clutches of a small group of federations and an even smaller group of leaders. And Chair Siegal would have asserted his leadership before it is too late, if it isn't already.

One can dream, can't one?



Anonymous said...

Manning has merely taken advantage of the laziness of her "claque," as you put it and of her successor. These people want to do the heavy lifting and she has been more than willing to do so,

Anonymous said...

To paraphrase Einstein's definition of Insanity: "Doing things the 'same way', over and over, and expecting 'different' results."
This January will be 6 years (!) since the GPT was introduced to the JFNA Board (or was it UJC at that time?).
Is there no National JFNA Leader out there with the courage to say 'enough'?

Anonymous said...

the power of the purse......in reading entries over the years, it is clear to me that the only means of stopping the madness and reorienting a responsible continental entity is for communities to stop the enabling. In order for this to happen, dollars (aka dues) need to be withheld and/or escrowed and/or reduced. And, that will only happen if enough powerful voices of major donors,community leaders, and concerned pros align and say "enough is enough".......A tipping point......If those involved with this blog and their allies don't act, we collectively should admit that we are part of the problem. Further, a related personal observation in reading past entries, is my clarity that there is a role for a responsible continental entity. Smart, serious, pragmatic leaders can hash this out if they found the koach. Some continental entities have seen their days, but this one could and should be relevant. Let's not let atrophy be confused with obsolescence........the power of the purse.

Anonymous said...

The good guys are always too nice or just walk away and the other guys play to keeps. As the Irish poet wrote, "the best lack all convictions. the worst are full of passionate intensity". Time for leaders still welcome in those rooms to step up and speak out.

Anonymous said...

It was Edmund Burke who wrote that "the only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good people to remain silent." We have "evil" and we have silence" and we have failure.

Anonymous said...

But we do have "anonymous" critics who actually have less courage than the individuals they assail...
Where's your courage?


RWEX said...

And, Anonymous Steve, We also have defenders of something who attack those who attack those Anonymous critics behind their own cloak of anonymity. Sorry, Steve, first names don't count.

Anonymous said...

She was the lucky beneficiary of a distracted and disinterested set of Trustees with the power to say "no," then coupled with the weakest of CEOs who didn't and doesn't have a clue and the results are exactly the picture you have been painting of an organization totally out of touch with what its purposes should be.

Anonymous said...

If you expect anyone to object to the Global Planning Table and its Partnership Committee Chair going along on their merry way toward the total disaster, you misread all of these people. The ones who are not Chair now, want o be, especially the ones from your City, Richard, so they will smile and nod their heads in agreement with what they know to be wrong; the others don;t even understand that they are even more separating JFNA from the vast majority of Dues-paying feds. It's over and YOU seem not to know it.

Anonymous said...

You may not be aware that Manning told the GPT that there are only "two or three" Large City Federations that have expressed any interest in funding these ridiculous "Signature Initiatives." In addition, someone named Susan (or maybe it was Suzy) Gellman, who isn't even on the GPT Executive Committee, was given speaking privileges to report that the Israel Civil Society Voluntary Initiative (which she must be funding herself) "is already making a difference in Israel" even though it has done nothing.

Delusion reigns. Let's hear it for the delusional!!