Tuesday, March 22, 2016


A few weeks ago, I was throwing out reams of correspondence from years past when I came upon what was announced in November 2008 as the "UJC Operational Strategy." it was then the second or, maybe, the third "Strategic Plan" of the then fledgling, struggling organization.* I read it with interest and then I looked over some email exchanges with those who passed for lay and professional leadership at the time.

The "Organizational Strategy" spoke to the dedication of the continental organization to federation "capacity-building" and its commitment to the creation of "more dollars and more donors." Of course, at the time, UJC had just forced out the professional leadership of campaign/financial resource development and instead had placed professional leadership of the then UJC Center for Jewish Philanthropy and the then innovative "collaborative Fund-Raiing Model" in the hands of the Consulting Services Department professionals. When I privately opined to the authors  (who were most unhappy that someone had sent it to me against their instructions) that this "Strategy" was doomed to failure because of a lack of professional understanding let alone leadership, I was attacked with a virulence that I came to understand was that iteration of "leadership's," lay and professional's, way of dealing with any and all criticism. Shortly thereafter, the Chair of the Center for Jewish Philanthropy and the National Campaign Chair, two esteemed lay leaders, had both resigned. 

That "Operational Strategy" failed...totally. And since that failure 8 years ago, JFNA has had no continental FRD professional leadership even as it has changed the "function," the "Brand," if you will, from financial resource development to "...the Philanthropic Resources Department." A meaningless brand for what has become a meaningless effort, lip service but no real service.

Oh, sure, I remember that Paul Kane joined the staff from the New York UJA-Federation of New York's FRD Department. But Paul didn't believe he had been hired to lead FRD but to be the cheerleading Sancho Panza to Smilin' Jerry. He blocked and tackled well, even organized the first "Million Dollar Roundtable," and was way, way compensated but performed no evident service to the communities' FRD efforts. When an incredible communal fund raiser with a spectacular record of achievement was interviewed for an open JFNA FRD leadership role just a few years ago, she was ultimately told...by Kane, not Jerry...that she could not be hired "for budgetary reasons." This year, I have been told by those inside 25 Broadway, another candidate was fully vetted for the position to lead a JFNA FRD effort only to have the offer founder once again "for budgetary reasons." While I don't know who would take the job (have you seen a Job Description? If so, please send it to me) given the bureaucratic and substantive obstacles to success, to claim "budgetary obstacles" when the CEO is paid twice what anyone would subjectively state was appropriate and subjectively is about a 700% overpayment; when a consultant is paid close to $400,000 for a part-time job for which no one knows what she does, is blasphemy.

Sure, Vicki Agron was hired last year as another consultant responsible for creating a "plan" for a new FRD Department. Given Vicki's commitment and her sense of responsibility in everything she does, she no doubt completed her task in time for the 2015 GA. Have you seen the Agron "plan?" Has Sandler? Now she appears to be staffing Missions, speaking at JFNA Professional Institutes on Campaign -- perhaps, she is or will be a one person FRD Department or, at the least, the living example of the lip service to FRD to which Smilin' Jerry appears totally committed...and that's the limit of Jerry's commitment. After all, unlike other more theoretical areas of JFNA's "work," the results of any FRD effort are readily and easily measured.

And who would want that?


* That is as compared with the failing organization that is JFNA today.


Anonymous said...

As long as Jerry is employed, there will be no functioning JFNA. What can't you understand? It's not personal. It's not vindictive. Worse than not being capable, he will prevent any success possible by his very actions. He is the ultimate anti-JFNA. The mirror image of the Midas Touch - he can turn gold into shit.

There is nothing there. The brand and employees who cower in fear. That is all there is. And the idiot in chief who has the time and inclination to read his employee's email boxes.

Our Federations must be hiding waste in more places than this. If they can tolerate this public fiasco, I cannot image me what elsvthy must be hiding. It is outrageous malfeasance.

Anonymous said...

As it has been posted here in the past, putting the blame on Jerry Silverman is mis-directed: He is doing a/his job according to what the Search Committee 7 years ago and the current Compensation Committee decreed.
Does he go through an annual review, as all the other Management Staff must do?
If he does, who conducts said review, and where are the results.....Management Staff has the results of their annual reviews in their permanent HR record.

Am I disappointed in Jerry Silverman's performance?....without question.
However, to allow this to happen to a National organization over the last 7 years is all on the JFNA Volunteer Leadership.......they should be taken to task.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever think about the possibility that FRD at JFNA has just become another captive of the consultant...in this case your friend, Agron? Just as so much at JFNA has been handed off to Mandel, which, in reality, is nothing more than a consultant; now FRD has been handed off to Vicki Agron on what seems to be an open-ended engagement. How much is being paid to these consultants? What is the nature of their assignments? How do we ever know if they are performing? The answer in each instance is we don't know. This is no way to run a non-profit organization.