Wednesday, May 2, 2018


For the last 9 years we have observed and commented on these pages on a veritable tsunami of failures. Failures driven by a disengaged lay leadership, a flummoxed CEO so overwhelmed by a job he has never understood that he should have resigned after Year 1, and a group of CEOs of all City-sizes who just kept their communities feeding the meter with millions in Dues year-after-year.

And, so, friends, here we have been with an organization obsessed only with rationalizing its 0own existence. We are now at the ultimate tipping point -- Silverman's retirement has already been announced. What's next?

Well, travel back with me 9 years ago. Kathy Manning created a Search Committee to identify a successor to Howard Rieger. Nice Job Description, nice group of leaders appointed to the Committee. And, then, that Search Committee followed the demand by Manning for someone "outside the box" and that "nice group of lay leaders' became "sheep in sheep's clothing," foisting on the system one whom by education and experience was singularly unprepared for the position he would then keep for almost ba decade.

And, now, a new Search Committee will be formed; and I am certain that that Committee will include not only Manning but a number of those who served so poorly back then. Why? That's the question. Were I asked I would argue that anyone who served the Search that chose Jerry -- as I recall because (1) he gave a great presentation to the Committee and (2) he wasn't a Federation CEO -- is prima facie disqualified from further service. Thank you very much. As agroup of lay and professional leaders came to the conclusion that change...real needed; they, whomever they are, need to stand strong and assure that the next CEO is exactly what the times and the system demand.

BTW, my sense of how wrong the CEO decision is not 20/20 hindsight. It was so evident from Day 1. Yet, when I expressed my serious concerns to those on the Search Committee then, I was invited to either "shut up" or to resign my Board position because, as one "friend" told me, "...either support Manning or get out of the way." When I explained that each Board member's obligation, each Board Member's fiduciary responsibility is to the institution, not to Kathy Manning, this leader just walked away and has spent no small amount of time over the past decade telling all who might listen and whenever possible what a terrible person I am.

If we didn't know it before, Jerry's basic and constant ineptitude joined at the hip with JFNA's comatose condition, have proved absolutely that a strong, smart, experienced CEO is a/the sine qua non of a strong, smart, purpose-driven organization. How might that happen?

  • Populate the Search Committee with  new faces, men and women who have demonstrated that they are willing to speak truth to power;
  • Staff the Search Committee with professionals who know our system -- let the JPRO Network assign the staff or retain John Ruskay or Steve Nasatir to lead the Search process;
  • Don't spend weeks drafting a Job Description; the one in place and ignored in the last process was fine;
  • If the optimal candidate says "no," ignore her/him and bring the full weight of leadership, lay and professional, to bear on that candidate's decision --that's worked before
For those of you who remember (and you can find it even today on YouTube), the brilliant Martin Short appeared in a skit on Saturday Night Live in which he played a synchronized swimmer who could not swim. That is JFNA today and for the past nine years. That must end NOW.

Remember going forward that there is at JFNA a small leadership cabal who have been in the aggregate an insuperable obstacle to change. They must step aside or be sidelined if JFNA is ever to succeed. I have come to trust that change can it must.



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