Perspectives by Deborah Corber, CEO

Edition 8,  June 11, 2015

How to Tend Relationships: A Collaborative Approach

Deborah CorberIn a previous incarnation, when I worked as a consultant in Aboriginal affairs, I often described myself as being in the “relationship and reconciliation business”. Years were spent building relationships at the negotiating table, developing the trust essential for reaching agreements. Countless hours were invested in trying to discern what lay behind the spoken words of my interlocutors. What were the real interests at play, and how could I rank their importance so that I could begin to imagine the compromises that might lead to settlement? The complexity of the law paled in comparison with the complexity of navigating human relationships and agendas.

Leaving it all behind to join Federation CJA felt like a dramatic departure, even though I joked at the time about shifting focus from Aboriginal tribes to my own tribe. And, on their face, the past several years have been markedly different from the previous decades spent practicing law and negotiating agreements with First Nations.

But, things are perhaps not as different as I had imagined they would be. We have relationships with stakeholders of all kinds and these relationships–much like a garden–need tending.

Because these stakeholders are vital players in the communal enterprise we must ensure:

…that our donors are appreciated not only for their financial generosity, but also for their opinions on how funds are spent and impact achieved, and how we run the organization to whom they have entrusted those funds

…that our volunteers can see that the hours they contribute are truly meaningful, that their ideas are valued and their impact is real.

…that our lay leaders believe that their enormous investment of time and energy in strategic thinking and decision-making will pave the way toward a bright and secure future for our Jewish community.

…that our agencies feel that Federation CJA is listening to them, that we understand their realities and respect their expertise, and that we support their efforts to serve and strengthen our Jewish community

…that all of our stakeholders–individual and organizational alike–know they can share their concerns, preoccupations and yes, their complaints, with us and that we will hear them out, even if we cannot always do as they would have us do.

At the same time, relationships are bi-directional and need tending on both sides. Federation CJA longs to have its own realities better and more widely understood in our community; for people to recognize that the Federation of today operates in an increasingly complex and competitive environment, that we face challenges unknown to earlier generations of leaders, and that our role in the community must evolve accordingly.

No longer the sole source of funds for many of our agencies, Federation CJA must increasingly rely on soft skills to have its voice heard. We must encourage and facilitate collaboration with our agencies on shared goals when we know that working together can offer greater efficiencies than going it alone could ever do. Each entity brings unique skills and expertise to the table that can add real value to the work of the other.

The good news is that there’s a growing spirit of compromise and partnership in the Federation family today. I’m talking about Ometz and Federation working together to develop a strategy to support French Jewish immigration to Montreal. And the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Center and Federation co-hosting an inspiring evening with Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, author of A German Life – Against All Odds, Change is Possible. And the Communauté Sépharade Unifiée du Québec and Federation co-branding the Israeli Film Festival to expand its reach to both French-speaking and English-speaking audiences. And the Bronfman Jewish Education Center, Hillel and Federation joining forces to re-imagine the design and delivery of youth and young adult programming, because young people are our future and we must seize every opportunity to engage them in Jewish life and Jewish community.

But collaboration of this kind doesn’t happen overnight: it is the fruit of mutual respect and trust built between people over long periods of time. Collaboration invites us into the room with distinct, even divergent interests. It calls on us to recognize those interests while seeking the common ground that will ultimately lead to compromise. It requires that we take risks in service of a greater good – in our case, the greater good of our Jewish community.

Looks like I’m still in the “relationship and reconciliation business”.


  Of Note

Jewish Funders Network Releases “Handbook for Funder Collaborations”Jewish Funders Network Releases “Handbook for Funder Collaborations”
The “Handbook for Funder Collaborations” is a compilation of research conducted by JFN that provides a comprehensive review of existing studies, articles, and in-depth interviews with 27 stakeholders in Israel.
http://bit.ly/JFNcollaborations

Adapting Duddy KravitzAdapting Duddy Kravitz
The incredible, unbelievable, meshuga story of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: The Musical at Montreal’s own Segal Centre.
http://bit.ly/duddyatsegal

The Ancient City of Jerusalem Is Seeing Rebirth as a Tech Hub The Ancient City of Jerusalem Is Seeing Rebirth as a Tech Hub
What is fascinating about Jerusalem today is not just its extraordinary past but its tremendous promise for the future.
http://bit.ly/Jerusalemtech

A year on, father of slain teen seeks to ‘translate pain into something positive’ A year on, father of slain teen seeks to ‘translate pain into something positive’
Ofir Shaer speaks of brutal killings of son Gilad, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, as families’ foundation to award unity prize in their memory.
http://bit.ly/israeliteens

Marcel Zielinski - Holocaust survivor from Montreal to bike from Auschwitz to Krakow - Holocaust survivor from Montreal to bike from Auschwitz to Krakow
A Holocaust survivor living in Montreal will participate in the second Ride For The Living from Auschwitz to Krakow in Poland 70 years after making a similar journey by foot..
http://bit.ly/Mtlsurvivor

Strengthening Congregations Strengthening Congregations
Too often, it is assumed that because established institutions are, well, established, they are not innovating internally. Frankly, that’s not the case.
http://bit.ly/strengtheningcongregations

Le Shtetel : 7 minutes de Bonheur (Article in French. Video for all languages)Le Shtetel : 7 minutes de Bonheur (Article in French. Video for all languages)
Le Shtetel : un dessin animé qui dure 7 minutes. Un graphiste allemand, Alexander Pavlenko l’a réalisé et la vidéo se promène sur les réseaux sociaux depuis quelques années. Vous aimerez la voir, vous aimerez la revoir.
http://bit.ly/leshtetl

From Iraq to Israel: the tale of a wandering silver trayFrom Iraq to Israel: the tale of a wandering silver tray
How an Iraqi Muslim came by a Jewish family's possession and the surprising lesson he learned.
http://bit.ly/iraqtoisrael

 

Jewish Funders Network Releases “Handbook for Funder Collaborations”Jewish Funders Network Releases “Handbook for Funder Collaborations”
The “Handbook for Funder Collaborations” is a compilation of research conducted by JFN that provides a comprehensive review of existing studies, articles, and in-depth interviews with 27 stakeholders in Israel.
http://bit.ly/JFNcollaborations

Adapting Duddy KravitzAdapting Duddy Kravitz
The incredible, unbelievable, meshuga story of The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: The Musical at Montreal’s own Segal Centre.
http://bit.ly/duddyatsegal

The Ancient City of Jerusalem Is Seeing Rebirth as a Tech Hub The Ancient City of Jerusalem Is Seeing Rebirth as a Tech Hub
What is fascinating about Jerusalem today is not just its extraordinary past but its tremendous promise for the future.
http://bit.ly/Jerusalemtech

A year on, father of slain teen seeks to ‘translate pain into something positive’ A year on, father of slain teen seeks to ‘translate pain into something positive’
Ofir Shaer speaks of brutal killings of son Gilad, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, as families’ foundation to award unity prize in their memory.
http://bit.ly/israeliteens

Marcel Zielinski - Holocaust survivor from Montreal to bike from Auschwitz to Krakow - Holocaust survivor from Montreal to bike from Auschwitz to Krakow
A Holocaust survivor living in Montreal will participate in the second Ride For The Living from Auschwitz to Krakow in Poland 70 years after making a similar journey by foot..
http://bit.ly/Mtlsurvivor

Strengthening Congregations Strengthening Congregations
Too often, it is assumed that because established institutions are, well, established, they are not innovating internally. Frankly, that’s not the case.
http://bit.ly/strengtheningcongregations

Le Shtetel : 7 minutes de Bonheur (Article in French. Video for all languages)Le Shtetel : 7 minutes de Bonheur (Article in French. Video for all languages)
Le Shtetel : un dessin animé qui dure 7 minutes. Un graphiste allemand, Alexander Pavlenko l’a réalisé et la vidéo se promène sur les réseaux sociaux depuis quelques années. Vous aimerez la voir, vous aimerez la revoir.
http://bit.ly/leshtetl

From Iraq to Israel: the tale of a wandering silver trayFrom Iraq to Israel: the tale of a wandering silver tray
How an Iraqi Muslim came by a Jewish family's possession and the surprising lesson he learned.
http://bit.ly/iraqtoisrael

 

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