The Leadership Challenge at UJC and JAFI

Two weeks from now we’ll all be smarter. But today, the question remains – who will fill the CEO positions at both the UJC and JAFI?

At the UJC, an imminent announcement is expected. One can only hope the search committee has given significant thought to their candidate and the qualities he/she brings to the table. We can only hope they sought advice from a wide constituency and took into consideration, not where the UJC is, but where The Jewish Federations of North America should be.

For, ultimately, it does not matter whether the final candidate is from within, or outside the system; whether he/she is a master fundraiser, marketing guru or financial whiz. What matters most is two qualities I hope they considered, but doubt they did.

First, the new CEO must be a healer. An individual who can identify all the rifts and bridge the many gaps – within the Federation system, with their partners overseas, and with the broader global Jewish community. For if the candidate is not able to gain the support of all the UJC’s various stake-holders,
he/she is doomed to failure even before the transition completes.

Second, the new CEO must possess a vision; he/she must be capable of articulating it and inspiring us with it. Business as usual, at best, is a recipe for failure. A new branding initiative, cutting edge ephilanthopy templates and the like are all useful tools. However, a strong, focused, exciting public persona with a coherent, comprehensive and eloquent message is the only way to turn this organization forward.

Let us hope they made a wise choice.