JFNA was envisioned to be a strong voice of the federations. Sometimes I wonder at what it has become. Then I think of one important service that JFNA provides. Travel with me...
At its birth, just when many of us believed that the then Newco would have the strongest possible professional leader -- a Nasatir, an Aronson, a ....- that elephant in the room, the UJA-Federation of New York, insisted that its sitting CEO, Steve Solender, then the dean of all federation executives, move over as the first CEO of what would become JFNA and, coincidentally, open the seat that allow the promotion of John Ruskay. Good deal for New York-UJA. Good deal for the system?
Then, many years later, New York-UJA had another great idea: it would cast out Paul Kane from its FRD leadership (notwithstanding his history of success) and, voila, a soft landing at JFNA. Not a bad idea, a well-seasoned pro who could fill the void in FRD created by Jerry Silverman's predecessor who forced out every competent professional in the FRD Department, in a continuing purge leaving Jerry with nothing. Unfortunately, Paul didn't see himself as having been hired to run FRD (and, perhaps, he wasn't); so he didn't (although he did gather a Million Dollar Roundtable, I think, for its first [only?] meeting). I can only think that Paul could have done so much had he been allowed to do so. Good deal for New York-UJA. Good deal for the system?
To "fill" the nothing that was FRD at JFNA, Paul grabbed another from the bosom of New York-UJA's staff, hiring Dr. Reuben Romirowski to do something within that dormant JFNA FRD. Smilin' Jerry announced the appointment thusly: “Reuben brings to JFNA the kind of proven track record and extensive communal experience that will help us drive our system’s fundraising forward." Uh, not so much. Reuben was to have all FRD constituent units reporting to him as Senior Vice-President. Didn't work out too well, did it? After a respectful passage of time, Reuben, too, was gone. As we have written, he still has not been replaced.
And, now, David Mallach has joined the organization as Executive V-P of the JFNA subsidiary, UIA,* after decades of service. A wonderful resume -- David comes to JFNA from...trumpets, please...New York UJA-Federation. I wish him well; every success. But I also recognize that he has joined an illustrious alumni association dumped from time-to-time on JFNA.
David is well-positioned to succeed his predecessors who performed with such excellence -- let's hope so. With an UIA staff in New York and Israel of demonstrated and continuing excellence, he will be well on his way...if JFNA-Israel leaves him alone to do his work.
*BTW, UIA's Board Chair announced the engagement of the new UIA CEO without bothering to seek the ratification required of the UIA Board by its By-Laws (which I drafted long, long ago). This seems to be following a new tradition at UIA where the last Chair, Rich Bernstein, just decided unilaterally and with no governance action, to do away with the UIA Executive Committee. Vayezmir.