Lay-Professional Relations in Federation Life: An Evolving Dynamic

By Cindy Chazan

Jewish Communal Service Association of North America (JCSA), Winter 2010

The work of Jewish communal organizations has long been accomplished through the dynamic of the volunteer-professional relationship. The healthier the relationship, then the stronger and more effective the working partnership and the organization. The lay-professional relationship is complex: the professional for the most part is the constant in the equation and the volunteer leader changes every two to four years. Lay leaders need to have faith in their professional so that they can achieve success. In recent months, as organizations have had to respond to economic crises with sometimes drastic measures, increased stress has been put on both lay and professional partners, expectations have sometimes changed, and tensions have risen. And yet, even in times of enormous challenges and stress, when the stars are aligned, the lay-professional relationship can become a long-lasting and solid partnership and a wonderful meeting of the minds. The lay-professional relationship can be the most gratifying or most frustrating aspect about leading in the Jewish community. A relationship characterized by trust, transparency, openness, and healthy interdependence is one that works well. This article reflects the lay-professional relationship at its best. My assignment for the Journal was to examine the lay-professional relationship through the lenses of the top volunteer leaders who have worked most closely with John Ruskay at UJA-Federation of New York. I invited all the UJA-Federation chairs who have served during the past decade for a frank conversation about what makes the lay-professional relationship work - or not. All responded immediately, affirmatively, and with enthusiasm and all came to meet with me in person. Their commitment of time to the interviews reflected their respect for John Ruskay.

Topic: Non-Professional Leadership, Jewish Federations, Lay Leadership, Power, Employment, Leadership, Governance, Jobs

Name of Publication: Journal of Jewish Communal Service

Editor: Naron Chalew, Gail

Volume/Issue: Vol.85/No.1

Page Number(s): 184-188

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Genre: Article

Coverage: New York, New York , United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Chazan, Cindy. Lay-Professional Relations in Federation Life: An Evolving Dynamic. Journal of Jewish Communal Service. Jewish Communal Service Association of North America (JCSA). Winter 2010: 184-188.


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