JFNA Board Explores Initiatives to Strengthen Federations January 28, 2013
At its winter meeting in Orlando this week, The Jewish Federations of North America’s Board of Trustees examined strategic directions for the future to increasingly focus JFNA resources in ways that will promote, support and lead Federations.
Presiding over the Jan. 27-28 meeting was JFNA’s volunteer leadership team, including Michael D. Siegal, chair of the board; Dede Feinberg, chair of the JFNA Executive Committee; Stephen J. Silverman, treasurer; and Susan K. Stern, National Campaign chair.
Siegal guided the board in a substantive dialogue about the proposed strategic directions, which evolved from a review of JFNA by President and CEO Jerry Silverman, JFNA’s professional leadership team, and input from more than 60 volunteer and professional leaders from around the Federation community.
The review covered key issues including Jewish communal trends, Federation needs, and the areas where JFNA leadership and services can make the greatest difference for the Federation system. The review also identified ways to strengthen JFNA’s resources and efficiency, and serve Jewish Federations with excellence.
In the coming year, the proposed areas of JFNA focus will include enhancing Federations’ fundraising and donor engagement; strengthening Federations’ people and programs; inspiring and promoting thought leadership; and increasing Federations’ collective influence and impact.
“We recognize that the changing landscape in the Jewish community requires new ways to strengthen and support our system,” said Siegal. “With this strategic review, and input from our stakeholders at Jewish Federations, we expect JFNA will continue to serve the Federation movement in the most effective way.”
Board members and Federation leadership participated in lively roundtable discussions on the issues, offering important perspectives and direction on implementation. The discussions will be summarized and distributed to the board, and inform continued work on the review before the June board meeting.
With efforts underway for the 2013 General Assembly in Jerusalem, the board discussed an evaluation of the 2012 GA in Baltimore, presented by 2012 GA Co-chairs Genine Fidler and Linda A. Hurwitz. The feedback will help shape planning for future JFNA events.
Board members also examined the recent historic elections in Israel, with an insightful presentation by David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process. Makovsky analyzed election results and coalition-building scenarios, and touched on external issues affecting Israel, including Iran’s nuclear weapons program and Syria’s civil war.
With Israel continuing to face challenges to its legitimacy, the board considered an update by the Israel Action Network, a shared initiative of JFNA and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. David Dabscheck, IAN’s deputy managing director, led a discussion about Israel messaging, while IAN Chair David Sherman and Managing Director Geri Palast detailed recent efforts and strategies to counter the assaults against Israel.
Turning to the always-central issue of fundraising and allocations, Stern reported on recent campaign news, while David Brown, JFNA’s chair of Human Services and Public Policy, detailed pressing issues on the domestic and human services policy front.
In more corporate business, the board unanimously approved the resolution to appoint the new Board of Directors of the United Israel Appeal, including UIA Chair Richard N. Bernstein. The Audit Committee chairperson also updated the board on the recent audit of JFNA, and JFNA’s treasurer delivered a report on the organization’s current financial picture.
The next board meeting, held in conjunction with the JFNA Delegate Assembly, will take place June 2-3 in New York City, followed by a board meeting and Delegate Assembly Nov. 10-13 during the GA in Jerusalem.