Sunday, August 23, 2015


What's the point of no return on JFNA's continued investment in the woebegone Jerry Silverman? I have recounted on these pages the waste of communal assets at 25 Broadway under the Silverman regime on failed program after failed program, on failed fund raising efforts upon failed fund raising efforts, on failed GA after failed GA -- I choose not to repeat these here inasmuch as everyone inside and outside JFNA is aware of them, some insiders far more aware than I.

Today, let's look at personnel management or mismanagement under this guy and, once again, ask the question, why? Why is this guy still our/their CEO?

  1. FRD...DEAD -- the best and brightest were hired and over the terms of the  last two CEOs...gone. So far gone that the best of them had to be brought back as a consultant just to offer strategies and plans and be camouflage to Silverman's wholly failed and mismanaged professional staff. This used to be the great strength of our national system; now it's our system's greatest void. This is an organization that under Silverman had the opportunity to hire one of the top federation fund raisers in our system; she was interviewed and later told (by Paul Kane!!) that JFNA couldn't " her into its budget." That's just one of the reasons JFNA is a laughingstock.
  2. Global Mess: Israel and Overseas -- this silo apparently is not managed at all from New York...too much trouble I assume. The silo has just grown aimlessly, unmanaged and without focus. Whereas Becky Caspi's predecessors, Menachem Revive and MK Nachman Shai offered both brilliance and access to the GOI for the federations,  since the tragic passing of Yitzchak Shavit, z'l, access to the Prime Minister has been in the hands of whom exactly...his friend, Michael Siegal? Is that how we want this to work? Why not bring in McKinsey and have them advise as to how to make this office work or, at least, explain to David Brown, et al., what it's doing. Is anyone managing this bloated bureaucracy? Not Jerry.
  3. The Global Planning Fable -- remember when CEO Silverman was advising everyone that "if the global Planning Table goes down, JFNA goes down?" He has apparently not forgotten but none of those who heard the threat over and over again will forget it -- this was one of Jerry's feeble and failed attempts to raise money for this Rube Goldbergian failure-to-be. If only Jerry had said "if the GPT fails, then I will resign" inasmuch as the GPT as its "leaders" intended is dead...d.e.a.d DEAD. There was never any enthusiasm for this this "Table" except from its very few remaining proponents -- Kathy Manning and Friends, as it were. But, like a cockroach, even in its death throes,the GPT refuses to die. So, even though the federations wouldn't fund any of the Initiatives (the one that obtained funding -- JQuest  -- saw $648,000 raised from a disparate group of 8 federations and assorted philanthropists-- will now be a responsibility shifted to the new JFNA Education Unit, which must have been sitting with its multi-million dollar funding from the National Agencies Alliance, waiting for something/anything to do). You may recall Silverman's proud hiring of an exceptionally talented D.C. young lay leader to lead both the GPT and GA efforts -- a talented leader of great potential who peremptorily quit when apparently she realized she wouldn't be permitted to do what she was hired to do. Oh Jerry, our Jerry. But, friends, it lives; the GPT lives... its "Partnership Committee" is now going to remain responsible for the JAFI/JDC "split" -- a "power" the GPT arrogated to itself last year. And, at a GPT Partnership Committee meeting earlier this month, one higher-up JFNA leader urged unbelievably: "...we need to spin the end (of the GPT) positively because we spent so much money." This is the disdain that JFNA's leaders have for you -- spin failure so you won't ask too many/any questions. If this all weren't, it would bring tears of sadness.
  4. Then there is the Ukraine. Were it not for the excellent work of the NCESJ, we would be totally unaware of the crisis, now the growing crisis, of the Jews of the Ukraine -- and, specifically, those caught up in the daily battle in Eastern Ukraine. As I write this 50,000 Russian troops have massed on the Ukraine border. What do we hear from JFNA whose FRD efforts on behalf of this endangered, impoverished population has been so woeful? Absolutely nothing. And who should be ashamed -- we...we...who demand nothing of this organization into which we continue to pour $30,000,000 year after year...that's who.
Track it all, friends...under Jerry Silverman's CEO-ship: Consulting Services lost its long-term professional leader; the GPT hired and then lost its best and brightest professional leader;  UIA, its outstanding Executive Vice-Chair going after three years; Planned Giving and Endowment -- the long-serving superb professional leader, retires with no successor; Finance, the Chief Financial Officer after incredible service (one who was ready, willing and able to consult after his departure pro bono whenever needed -- he's probably no longer waiting by the phone); Financial Resource Development, all lead pros gone; the Network's senior professional, replaced. This is an almost remarkable history of deconstruction -- even for CEO Jerry. And still nothing, demand nothing...we. Oh, wait -- at the GA, the non-profit Jewish Leadership Pipeline Alliance will offer counsel, according to FedWorld, whose writers apparently lack all sense of irony given this professional leadership vacuum at 25 Broadway, on "How Do You Retain Top Staff?" Maybe CEO Jerry will be their honored guest?!

I mean...really...any rational lay leader would have said "this has to stop" long, long ago; but JFNA is no place for rational thought let alone rational action. Oh, and Mark Gurvis and the mystery professional, Deborah K. Smith -- what do they do again?

Oh Jerry, you know not what you have done, do you? You still look around, grin 
plastered to the face, thinking "aren't things great?" "Great" -- really, REALLY?

Am I being unfair? I don't think so.



Anonymous said...

1. FRD - Campain needs to be the centerpiece - restore UJA!
2. Israel & Overseas - if needed at all (?) should be a very small liason office with a serious leader that can indeed represent us opposite the Israeli Government - not an empire and an "operational" unit attempting to compete with and sabotage the great institutions that are already in place to do the work on our behalf. No need for a startegic planning process to plan an unneeded function - just kill it and bury it alongside the GPT. We have all the human and organizational resources we need in place in Israel and around the world. Our job should be to fund them, coordinate between them and oversee their work with a vibrant lay committee structure.
3. GPT - finally dead so bury it already!
4. Ukraine - see number 1.
5. Jewish Education - not our job!
6. FedWorld (and marketing in general) - to promote campaign and needs - not to promote JFNA.
All this may not be easy but at least we should stop wandering, set our goals and mission and then start keeping our eye on the ball!

Anonymous said...

Your title could have referenced the Markets. Now, at a time like this, when federations need a national/continental voice on strategies to help cope with those Markets, there is no one home at 25 Broadway with a clue.