Thursday, January 19, 2017


...that having seen his predecessor spend his three years as Chair spinning his wheels, running some meetings well, while the organization backslid even further than under his predecessor, that Richard Sandler, like Michael Siegal a fine man and a wonderful philanthropist, might have wanted his three years as Board Chair to be that moment in time when the Titanic that JFNA has become would move away from the iceberg and begin to change. Well, if Year One of the Sandler terms is any example, the next two years will be as wasted as the first. 

And that's a damn shame. A damned shame.

Friends, a leader who fails to lead is just a man taking a walk; and it's the walk as John Feinstein defined golf -- "a long walk spoiled" and spoiled badly. The current Coach and CEO of the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves had a mantra that he has employed to demand excellence -- it's simple: "do your job." I'm certain that Richard, given his background and exceptional leadership experiences knows that keeping Jerry Silverman in office as JFNA CEO is the ultimate triumph (can it even be called that?) of hope over experience. It is hope where there is none.

I have to believe that Sandler knows this. He promised before he took the position for which he was recruited that he would be willing to delegate all to a superb professional -- to "stay out of the professionals way." So he must know after one year plus that which he should have known from the years before he assumed the Chairmanship: that Jerry just is not, was not and will not be up to the job; that he has not demonstrated over the prior six years either self-awareness, ability or commitment to effect the kind of change JFNA  has needed all of those years, I'm sure that Richard can pull the trigger; but, watching nothing happening, I'm not sure he knows where to aim.

So, friends, after more than one year in office, Richard Sandler faces a choice; it's the same choice that his predecessor faced. Yes, Michael Siegal had to decide whether his tenure as Chair would be one of no progress, no change, no achievement, no purpose. And Michael just ran out his three years -- although, to Michael's credit, he did pull the plug on the bottomless pit that the Global Planning Table was from the get-go and he did so before his terms expired. What path will Richard choose? The same one that Michael chose -- nothing? Or will he invest the time, energy and thought necessary to changing JFNA; change that must begin in the Executive Office at 25 Broadway?

And, of course, I know that Posts like this one disrupt the narrative that Richard Sandler and others at JFNA have foisted upon the rest of us -- that everything is just fine at 25 Broadway and that "Jerry is doing a great job." In response one can only say: "Look around; look around;" see JFNA for what it has become; ask questions like "what are we spending our money on;" "what has been and is the federations' return on their investment?"

There is but one answer to the multiple questions; and that answer is self-evident. Change is desperately needed and Jerry can no more drive change than my 5 year-old grandson can drive a car. But our organization's most senior leaders react to the need with total bewilderment; it's as if they see a fire, hear a fire alarm, but can't find the nearest exit.

Let's help them find that exit...NOW.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The good news is that there is one high performing JFNA dept in DC that works.

The troubling concern is that, as we enter the divisive and uncharted years ahead, we need to have a clearer fix on how public policy positions for the system are to be set and whether the JFNA board will assert ownership.

Would it not be right and proper to set process parameters on the front end so that discussion, debate and decisions are made collectively and in the light of day? What may have worked up to now may not be sufficient moving forward.