Here is a thought:
"It’s no secret that the United Jewish Communities (UJC), the umbrella organization of the North American Jewish federation system, has been viewed as a sinking ship for some time now, plagued by a shrinking budget, low morale after large-scale staff reductions and a persistent concern among many professionals and lay leaders in the community that a decade after its creation, the organization still lacks a clearly defined mission.So Jerry Silverman, named this week to succeed Howard Rieger as top executive of UJC on Sept. 30, was prepared for friends asking him why he would want to become captain of The Titanic. His response was that he believes the community deserves and is capable of supporting a strong national entity, adding that he was “humbled” by and “passionate” about the opportunity to lead." (The Jewish Week, September 2009)Since that date way back when, at a time of hope, however slim, for the future, Silverman has taken the "sinking ship" of 2009 and made of it well...sunk. In fact, it is clear that Jerry's appointment as CEO/President accelerated JFNA'S ineluctable slide into irrelevance. As the JFNA (f/k/a "UJC") Board Chair apparently will not take the one step necessary to end Jerry's/JFNA's misery and negotiate Jerry's severance (if, in fact, Silverman's contract, which remains hidden in the black hole that Silverman himself has helped to create, has a severance provision), then Jerry needs to acknowledge publicly, that which he must do privately (surely he must), that he needs to step aside. That which he should have done years ago.
What went wrong? There are probably as many explanations as there are examples at 25 Broadway. I am convinced by the evidence offered by social psychologist and Stanford Business School Professor Deborah Gruenfield:
"Individuals in positions of power can be seen to exhibit behavior that is idiosyncratic, and at times even contrary to reason. Dr. Gruenfeld explains how the lack of consequences for their actions can allow powerful people to make serious errors in judgment that have far-reaching impacts on themselves and on their organizations. Her research explains the psychological effects of power: single-mindedness in decision making, an orientation to action, disinhibition, and depersonalization of others."We can see all of the characteristics of bad leadership behavior in the hiring of Jerry Silverman and in his perpetuation in an office to which he has proved to be so ill-suited, and in JFNA's treatment of all others, lay and professional, who have (or will) push back against pre-cooked decisions and ill-informed judgment.
We all remember (and will soon hear again if not already in the political campaigns that we are watching, engaged in or trying to avoid), the mantra of every Presidential election: "Ask yourself, are you better off today than you were four years ago?" Then put that in the context of JFNA: "Is JFNA in a better position today than it was 5+ years ago, when Jerry Silverman was hired?" And the answer to that question, by even Silverman's most fervid supporters (if there are any of those) must be, can only be, a resounding NO!!! Our federation system and its umbrella, JFNA, have never been at a lower point. If, as The Jewish Week observed in its 2009 editorial, that "the organization still lacks a clearly defined mission," what would it write today? As Silverman endorsed a JFNA that would be "a strong national entity," name a single action he initiated or brought to his Board that would have or did make it so? If JFNA was "The Titanic" five years ago, what has Admiral Jerry done other than to move the deck chairs? What was a great senior professional staff when JFNA was born by merger, is today and over the past 5+ years a home for less than a handful of the best today and a larger number of "consultants" whose contracts and purposes appear to be known only to Silverman and the consultant himself/herself -- among them Karen Barth, Deborah K. Smith, Paul Kane and Max Kleinman. The organization's costs are hidden behind an opaque, impenetrable wall of non-disclosure.
A viable non-profit system requires all those things that Jerry Silverman's JFNA has, perhaps, thought about but done nothing about -- transparency, purpose, vision, among others. What we have seen over the last five years has been egregious, impermissible waste, no progress and an utter lack of accountability.
When does this stop? When would it be the time to step down? How about today? How about at this 2015 GA? Let's get JFNA moving again...
AN ADDENDUM...Today the Owner of the Detroit Lions, a woeful example of a football team at 1-7 (the "1" a win over the Chicago Bears BTW), stated: "We can't take it any more" and terminated the team CEO. Got it? "We can't take it any more" and terminated the team CEO. I'm just sayin'