Monday, August 29, 2016


I remain a JFNA  Board Member. In that capacity, following JFNA's refusal to share with me the "agreement" with SS+K (See, Post, Shepardson Stern and
Kaminski, LLC -- Who Are These Guys?), I requested a copy of a Consultant Contract from Pam Zaltsman, JFNA CFO. Her response to the request was terse: "...JFNA doesn't share its contracts." Hmmm, yes, friends, JFNA locks away "its" (aren't those Contracts, "ours"?) contracts just as Donald Trump locks away his tax returns. 

It would be easy to just dismiss this denial to a non-profit Board Member of a basic right; but this is too important. A Board Member's duty of inquiry is vital to the success of any and every non-profit, not just JFNA. But JFNA doesn't recognize that duty, in fact it resents it and it rejects it absolutely and in every way.

I recognize that JFNA and others need to place reasonable restrictions on the potential distraction that inquiries might create. That would be fair. But, inasmuch as  the CFO's announcement of a "policy" appears to be nothing more than an ad hoc fiat created at the whim of the CEO, not an adopted "access" policy of the entity, it is but another pathetic example of misguided professional action that has come to typify JFNA. And, from all indications, the CEO is doing so with the implicit if not explicit approval of the JFNA Board Chair.

I, and others, have over time, asked for full disclosure of the number, extent and amounts of JFNA's consultant contracts -- while the number of undisclosed consultancies in excess of $100,000 increased with non-disclosure from the five in 2013-14 to 15 in 2014-15 -- an increase of 300%. And not one of those agreements has ever been reviewed and/or approved by the JFNA Board. We are talking about $6,528,000 for unidentified "Outside and Professional Services" in the 2016-2017 Budget -- the second largest expense category; almost more than JFNA invests in Program. That "Outside and Professional Services" Expense line is up 8.3% over the prior fiscal year and makes up 12.3% of total expenses and Board Members (at least this one) are told: "...JFNA doesn't share its contracts."

Several years ago we observed the impropriety of JFNA delegating (how or why we never learned) to the Marketing Committee the determination of how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with no approval by the Board or the Executive Committee. That request for information was just ignored. That's how JFNA conducts its business..and it's wrong and it's pathetic...and it's dangerous.

We see $6.5 million unaccounted for and unsupervised...and, now, we have come to understand that there is no accountability for these expenditures. If JAFI had a $6.5 million line item with no back-up, no lay review, no approval process and no disclosure, is there any doubt that JFNA lay leaders on the JAFI Board would be ballistic, demanding accountability? If our federation budgets had a line equivalent to $6.5 million for which there was no accountability and no disclosure and an inquiring Board member were told "...we don't share our contracts," I guarantee that change (in every way) would be immediate.

But, of course, this is JFNA...and not one cares. 



Anonymous said...

Richard, you should just send this violation of non-profit basic Board member rights to the NY Attorney General and the IRS.

RWEX said...

After first slamming one of the candidate's for President, an Anonymous Commentator admonished me:
"Richard - you should keep your political bias out of these blogs - they do not help your important message." I thank that person for the suggestion, if in fact my Post suggested a "political bias.".

Anonymous said...

Forget the Board members -- what about the Board Chair himself? Richard Sandler, JFNA Board Chair, is not only a lawyer, he is the Executive Vice President,The Milken Family Foundation, a major 501(c)(3). One would assume that he knows the difference between right and wrong and might demand that the professional staff act like professionals.

Anonymous said...

Sandler slept through his law school classes on governance.

Anonymous said...

Richard, I am not on the JFNA Board, but I assume that you have the list and contact information of the members.
What about looking through the list for leaders that you know, and then sending out the trail of this discussion to them for their reaction to this topic?
I agree with you that this is beyond the pale.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything at JFNA in which the leadership can take pride after 7 years? Or, maybe they take pride in denying Board members access to matters to which they are entitled.

Anonymous said...

Someone please ask the members of the search committee and the compensation committee.

Anonymous said...

Richard aren't you still making a gift to your Federation (where JFNA dues are buried in your overseas allocation)? So you are continuing to fund that which you deem "pathetic"?!