Thursday, September 10, 2015


In anticipation of a Global Planning Table Partnership Committee meeting on August 11, its members received a Global Planning Table Update -- August 2015, an Orwellian "history" if ever I have read one. Whoever wrote it deserves the JFNA 2015 Fiction Award. Here is how it read with my perspective noted. But, first, a comment:

  1. This history begins in 2011 ignoring that what was to become the GPT began with a fraud -- a claimed "consensus" in support of a "Table" in the last minutes of a poorly attended 2010 JFNA Board Retreat where no "consensus" was sought, no vote was taken. From that moment forward, propelled by a dynamic, driven Kathy Manning, what I would estimate as close to $4,000,000 of your dollars was wasted on this wasted, wasteful effort.
  2. The GPT version of "history" begins with the establishment of the GPT in 2011 "[A]fter more than a year of planning." Here's what passed for GPT "planning" -- a well-used consultant was retained by JFNA apparently to sell the unsaleable. Draft plans were the subject of a series of Regional Meetings at which JFNA "welcomed your input." Uh huh. In Chicago, for example, with Silverman and the consultant present, after a confused and confusing presentation, the audience of federation leaders to a person, rejected the plan as presented. FOBs present at every single one of the Regional Meetings reported that the "plan" was met with similar denunciation. After this uniform rejection of the GPT Plan as presented, Manning, Silverman and the consultant went "back to the drawing board" and presented the same exact plan (with some poor wordsmithing) as if those Regional Meetings never occurred. 
  3. Then the GPT "structure" was formed -- a bewildering set of "governance" and "working group" vehicles including a large "GPT Committee" with no power and an inside group -- The Global Planning Table Partnership Committee -- that would make decisions chaired by the self-selected Kathy Manning who for the next years would sit astride both the Chairmanship of JFNA and that of this GPT Partnership Committee, controlling all. (At a point in time, Washington's David Butler would be given the largely ceremonial position as Chair of the GPT Committee (not that Partnership Committee), a leadership function he performed quite well as the public face of the GPT while Manning played the marionette to David's puppet.)
  4. Does any federation leader care what the cost of this insanity has been -- or do they prefer, as one of the most senior JFNA lay leaders put it last month at the meeting of the GPT burial society: "...we have to put this (closure) in the best light, because so much money was..." wasted. The air is heavy with total irresponsibility...and it's not that the leaders -- lay and professional alike -- weren't warned from Day 1 of this total fiasco.
Incredibly, chevre, in the comical "GPT history" presented to the Global Planning Table Committee last month, all of the "fault-finding" seemed to be "out there" -- none of the problems were "in here" -- not the convoluted structure, not the top-down dictation from the start, not the disconnection from the federations, not the imperious nature of decision-making. So, there were these according to the Orwellian history of the GPT:

  • "...less than a month after the Board approved the...initiatives, Operation Protective Edge began..."
  • "JFNA (NB: not the GPT, JFNA) made efforts to reach out to every Large, Large-Intermediate and Intermediate size Federations to pitch each of the three projects, but due to dynamic changes in the marketplace, we had limited success raising funds for the ICZ and JQuest, and JFNA (NB, JFNA not GPT) was unable to launch either program." (emphasis added)
  • "JFNA assumes responsibility for failing to solicit the necessary funds from Federations...It is clear that this lack of communication led to Federations' ambivalence about GPT projects."
Through some perverse logic (or, perhaps, it is merely comparing the absolute failure of fund raising for the ICZ and JQuest Initiatives) raising $648,000 for a multi-million "Voluntary Initiative" is considered a "success." 

And, finally, the Global Planning Table undertook to mandate a "change of the 'split.'" The GPT  acknowledged that "...the Federation collective (hmmm) has not been ready to change the historic 'split.'" This will not stop the GPT from pursuing a goal that is already dictated by the federation "market." The GPT's "help" isn't needed or wanted here, either.

So, the shiva can begin, friends. The GPT, at its meeting, announced, over the fevered, unreasoned objections of Kathy Manning, its author and, at the end of the day, almost its only defender, "as of now, the Global Planning Table and its Committee are retired." According to the GPT itself, its "work and influence will endure." Michael Siegal was reported as "almost gleeful."

Sadly, the melody dirge and the waste the GPT created linger on.



Anonymous said...

No need to worry though. Certainly most of the staff is still around, reassigned to new tasks in the Global Empire.

Anonymous said...

Would it not have been wonderful if the money and human energy and talent available from the federations and wasted on the poorly conceived and even more poorly executed Global Planning Table had been invested instead in enhancing the work of the federations in creative ways -- in financial resource development, in building lay and professional leadership and in empowering our partners. This was a horrible breach of fiduciary responsibilities by so many.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe that anyone with a position of responsibility in any Jewish organization would suggest, as you have quoted, that the waste of the GPT be essentially "covered up." That person ought to resign now.

Anonymous said...

Better late than never!
But please don't try to develop some new strategic initiative in its place. Enough already!
We should be raising money for our partners and the programs that they operate on our behalf and our involvement there should be limited to oversight and people-to-people involvement - not planning for them and acting as if we know better how things should be done over there.
We should be assisting and encouragiing the relevant agencies - mainly JDC and JAFI - not trying to find others to replace them - or even worse - trying to compete with them and attempting to replace them ourselves!
Enough is enough!

Anonymous said...

Richard, thanks for the summary on the GPT. However any post-mortem must include mention of Jerry selling Joanne Moore, a phenomenal lay leader, a bill of goods that was the GPT; convincing her to join JFNA as the Lead Staff (and I believe for the GA, also). And then her subsequent voluntary departure (for reasons that were never disclosed) after around 6 months. One can only imagine what she witnessed first-hand of the inner-workings of JFNA under Silverman.
Then, and in retrospect, this should have sounded alarms to JFNA leadership that something was amiss.
At the very least, someone on the JFNA Board should stand up at the meeting at the GA, and ask the simple question: "Now that the GPT is behind us, how much did it actually cost the Federations?" Kathy Manning and Jerry Silverman have gotten away with this fiasco for too long.
Richard Sandler deserves to know........