Friday, June 3, 2016


Recently, in response to our Post on Silence, a lively albeit Anonymous dialogue took place on these pages as to where "blame" for the mess (some might call it the "Manning/Silverman Mess") JFNA is in and from which it seems impossible to extract itself. Some asserted that it's not the Federation CEOs who were/are responsible; others said sure they are; and, still others asserted that this mess is purely that laid at the feet of JFNA's lay leadership alone. 

Hell, I say, there is plenty...more than enough...of blame to go around. Let us count the ways.

Certainly, at the outset, at the time of Smilin' Jerry's hiring, it was Kathy Manning who brilliantly, giving "credit" where "credit" is due (if that's what you call it), brilliantly maneuvered a small group of willing lay sycophants to select as the successor CEO to a series of retired federation chief professionals who had preceded Silverman without measurable successes Silverman, who, upon further review, had no federation background or experience and lacked any ability to make a difference or influence transformational change at JFNA. As we recorded on these pages in real time, none of these failings should have been a surprise to anyone...anyone except those blinded by their sycophancy. 

And, where were the federation CEOs at that time? Well, they couldn't find a willing candidate of their own (the Large City Executives, in reality, rarely agree on anything) and the best and brightest of them didn't want the position, having grown fat and happy, as they were/are within their own fiefdoms. Further, among those lay leaders selected/self-selected by Manning to serve on the "inside Search Executive Committee" were some with real influence among their communal chief executives. So, once the hiring of Jerry was foisted upon the insider Search Screening Committee, it was cooption all around.

That was then; but those same circumstances didn't exist when it came to "extension time." After all, there had now been five...count 'em, five...consecutive years of failure; five years with nothing to show for about $3.5 million (+/-) in compensation wasted. When JFNA's first CEO -- a great federation chief professional -- had to go after but two years, the LCE "confessed error" and Steve Hoffman stepped to the fore. As the time for an extension/termination decision approach, there was almost...almost...unanimity that Silverman was not up to the demands of this oh-so-complicated position. And, yet, while the Federation CEOs might have mocked Jerry to each other in private, in reality they had "no problem" with him so long as they could play Edgar Bergen to Jerry's Charlie McCarthy. After all, Hoffman and Rieger, Silverman's predecessors actually pushed the federations for action; Jerry was no problem, he didn't know how or where or whom to push or on what issue. 

Even as the federations, individually and collectively, have received fewer and fewer services, and the JFNA staff has, either intentionally or through sheer ineptitude, been rendered void of almost any professionals with any federation experience, never is heard a discouraging word...well, hardly ever.

As for the lay leadership, as we have discussed on these Posts admittedly ad nauseam, they couldn't be bothered. Most could have cared less and many who knew better were apparently sufficiently well-stroked to just turn away. Some just found Jerry "likable" -- as if that were a sufficient criterion to be rewarded with $750,000 (+/-) in annual compensation and benefits. Again, all these leaders who have protected this CEO need only have asked themselves "is JFNA better today under Jerry Silverman's professional leadership than it was five years ago?" -- what would have proved to be nothing more than a rhetorical question had even been asked. And it wasn't even asked...ever. Even today. To paraphrase LBJ as President: "If the JFNA Board Chair can't do what he knows is the right thing to do; then what good is being the Board Chair?" Yep, just "what good is being Board Chair?"

Yes, there's plenty of blame to go around. It stinks.



Anonymous said...

Whoever is to blame for where we are is a matter of history - not really so important at this stage.
We should be concentrating on changing where we are and making things better.
The way to do that is to start speaking up and to start voting no for more of the same and to make sure that proposals for serious change are presented that we can vote in favor of.
Those that can vote are those with the real power but only if they are willing to start leading rather than just following the pack.
Let us use the authority and responsibility that we have been entrusted with to save our organization, save our community and save our people!

Anonymous said...

We can only hope Richard Sandler will not follow in the footsteps of his predecessors but (to borrow from anon at 11:53) will use the authority and responsibility he has have been entrusted with to save this organization!

Anonymous said...

Have we seen anything from Chair Sandler that would even suggest that he would be the leader to actually see what's going on at JFNA let alone do something about it? All I have seen is another chief volunteer officer who can't be bothered, who would prefer to believe that all is just great -- in another words, just another empty suit. Wish it were otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a JFNA Board meeting taking place now?
I guess we'll see if anyone speaks up.