Thursday, October 12, 2017


I want to at least try to be fair. Tell you the truth, I can't think of a single reason that Jerry Silverman believed that he could perform the responsibilities of CEO of JFNA when he was hired; when he was relieved of his JFNA management responsibilities three years (+/-) later; or when he agreed to the renewal of his contract. I understand why he did so -- tough to turn down $700,000 (+/-) a year, isn't it. But...really...REALLY?

If those who believe that the federations are dying or dead were looking for a host body into which to inject their virus, they found it in Jerry. I don’t believe that was then Board Chair Kathy Manning’s intent — she merely arose from the larvae of small Federation city, Greensboro  (though she never failed to remind any and all within earshot that she was raised in the culture of the Detroit Federation), and by dint of very hard work, a willingness to take on any job, diligence and self-promotion had risen to the position of Chair with only the most modest of experience in federation life or governance — she just wanted to appoint someone “outside the box;” viz., someone with less federation knowledge than she and one who would know that he owed his job to her and her alone. Kathy insured Jerry’s engagement by appointing a Search Committee made up, in the main, of those who felt it was more important to unquestioningly follow the Chair's lead than to even think about let alone dare to question the fitness of her choice for the position. 

Rather than a match made in heaven, JFNA and Jerry were more like a perfect storm of dysfunction. When a small group of us met with Silverman for the first time in Chicago before he began his "work," I suggested to him the value of immediately hiring a COO with federation experience as his professional partner. He rejected the idea -- it was something he would "get to" in the near-term future. Two-plus years later, then Board Chair Michael Siegal imposed a COO on Jerry, stripping away Silverman's management functions, leaving him to be, as Michael described it to me, the "public face" of JFNA at the same or higher salary. Vayezmir.

Having accomplished nothing during his contract term, JFNA lay leaders having rewritten Silverman's job description to less than half of what he had been hired to perform, his contract was renewed. This renewal of Jerry's contract was awarded like a lagniappe of some kind -- a reward for nothing; for Jerry had done nothing and had given no indication on any objective measure of being the least bit capable of doing anything into the future. In fact, in announcing the contract extension to the Board, Chair Siegal could not provide a single rationale for doing so. And, here we are approaching four years later with only failure to show for the effort -- or, really, the lack thereof.

Chevre, there was a dumpster fire on-going at JFNA when Michael Siegal and his tiny cabal of leadership determined to renew Jerry's contract. I can only guess that they thought that Jerry, largely responsible for the dumpster fire, could put it out by pouring gas on it. And they were wrong...terribly wrong. This tiny cabal proved that they talk only among themselves in the echo chamber they have created. Faced with the absolute necessity of demanding change, JFNA leaders responded with pusillanimous refusal. 

And, they continue to...Richard Sandler was part of the decision to renew Jerry's contract; worse, his governance philosophy -- delegate to the professional and then "get out of the way" -- has proved to just not work when the professional in whom he has vested his full confidence is so clearly not competent to run the organization or even to be its "public face" in anything other than photo ops and a periodic interview.

It's time for a change; that is JFNA's only chance for a future.

JFNA under its current leaders evidences everything embodied in the acronym TARFU.

You can look it up.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

TARFU indeed. Can anyone offer s rebuttal to what Richard has written; anyone? There is no excuse for the perpetuation of the sham that is "Silverman CEO" beyond 5 p.m. today. In fact, this sham should have never begun. How long can this lay leadership ignore the depths that JFNA has reached?