Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Some of you may recall a little over one year ago when the Young Leadership Cabinet made a presentation to the JFNA Board on the Cabinet's "plans," they were confronted with Board members public expressions of disbelief, disappointment and pushback. The response was something like this: "We hear you. We'll go back to the drawing board and come back to you reflecting what we've heard from the Board members." 

So, it was back to a rethink and, with the aid of two consultants with insights into the Cabinet, last month the YLC issued a "Strategic Planning Update:"
Now, you really have to read it for yourselves but I can tell you two things: (1) it's wholly uninformative (other than "we have so much more work to do"); and (2) reflects what the Cabinet leaders heard from the JFNA Board over one year ago.

Somewhere our great friend, the late Rabbi Herb Friedman, z'l, is crying. 

Yet, this Cabinet "thing" is wholly consistent with the JFNA "thing."

One needn't travel too far back in the history of JFNA to remember the fiasco of the birth of the Global Planning Table. Pursuing the personal dream nightmare of Kathy Manning, JFNA hired Karen Barth as its Global Planning Table "consultant" (why have so many of JFNA's most costly mistakes been framed by consultants is a question others should be asking). Barth prepared an expansive (and expensive) Draft plan for the GPT and she and Silverman took it on the road to "get the input" of federation leaders at regional meetings around the country. At each one of these "hearings," Silverman and Barth heard these federation leaders of every City-size reject, sometimes with the laying down of "red lines" ( "if this goes forward as the Draft suggests, that will be a red line for federation X"), but, always, with the assertion that if the Draft materialized into a final product it could not be approved because the "solutions" it offered ("Signature Initiatives," "Coalitions of the Willing") were an express rejection of collective responsibility. At the end of each regional meeting, federation leaders were assured that "we hear you" and "we are going back to the drawing board to assure that what we heard will be reflected going forward."  Given the opposition at the regional meeting I attended, I didn't have to say a word.

And, what happened? Well...nothing...changed. The Draft Plan with some minor "tweaks" became the Global Planning Table Plan. No substantive changes; no reflection of any of the criticism leveled at the regional meetings by federation leaders. For JFNA, this was business as usual. Unfortunately, for the federations this was business as usual, as well -- "red lines," meaningless; the deconstruction of collective responsibility, ignored.

And, in the end, after the investment waste of unaccounted-for millions on this thing, after the diversion of staff from work that might have actually helped the federations, after JFNA failed to raise the funds that might have made the GPT relevant in some ways -- after all of that the Global Planning Table was collapsed at the last moments of the Siegal administration. (Would that be considered an "accomplishment?") Maybe you remember Silverman's frequent statements to the effect that "if the Global Planning Table fails then it will mean the end of JFNA." Maybe he was right.

Oh, there's more, way more!! How many millions lost in the wake of multiple TribeFests?  The aimless wanderings and underperforming of the National Agencies-Federations Alliance. Failed allocations. Unpaid Dues. Failed internal fund rising. Hidden consultant contracts.The list may actually be endless.

But, who cares?



Anonymous said...

I just returned from the poorly attended GA. Next year LA. I wonder what will happen when JFNA gives a "party" in LA and no lay leaders east of the Mississippi shows.

Anonymous said...


You consistently refer to communities who are not paying their fair share it a secret to who they are? An interested public would like to know.

RWEX said...

In the land of "see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil," where all things are secrets, I only know what federation leaders have told me in confidence. I'm sorry and certainly JFNA will never admit to it.

Anonymous said...

There appears to be a consult disease at 25 Broadway without a single leader to say this has to stop. At the GA we finally learned that Max Kleinman, former Large City Exec, remains a consultant. Is this one way Silverman keeps the LCE quiet -- knowing that if they state the obvious -- that JFNA is a disaster -- there will be no consultancy at the end of their careers. There must be a name for this practice; I would call it corrupt.

Anonymous said...

You named one LCE who went as a consultant to JFNA after retirement. But none of the rest did. And I know my Exec, and most of the others, would stay far away from that building.

Anonymous said...

My Exec said he is planning to retire and won't go near JFNA.

Anonymous said...

I was at the GA this year. I thought the attendance was definitely diminished, true. But there were some excellent sessions and the content was good.

Anonymous said...

I also thought that the attendance was small (and a lot of staff). But this is also a reflection of the growing professionalization of our federations. We don't have to play the AIPAC numbers game. It's fine if we don't have tens of thousands coming to the GA. AIPAC's convention is all about the numbers and trying to show off, and not about the content and the context. What I witnessed at the GA however was truly inspiring--a new generation of young Cabinet leaders, new Execs coming into their roles, new ideas about engagement and philanthropy.

Anonymous said...

I think anon at 8:27 is on to something. I was flying home from the GA yesterday and discussing with my Exec, an old hand in the system. We both noted the lower numbers, but there is something very inspiring about seeing the young crowd now coming in and taking positions of lay and staff responsibility.