Israel Institute for Leadership and Governance – November 2011 Update

Dear Friend, 

I am extremely pleased to announce that we have signed a groundbreaking contract with the Government of Israel for the establishment of the Center for Public Leadership, the first of three partnerships that will form the base for the ‘JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance’. The Center for  for Public Leadership will conduct training programs for senior elected officials and senior civil servants, as well as programs for graduates to help them lead systemic changes.

Until now, each of our training programs for government officials required a separate contract with the government. Our new partnership includes a cluster of programs over a long term span, and for the first time, critical allocations for program development and evaluation, which will allow long term planning and the measurement of the Center’s impact. This indicates that the government sees its new partnership with the Center for Governance as a long term investment, and is interested in supporting not only the implementation of specific programs, but the development of the Center itself. The Government’s commitment to the Center is 3.75 million NIS over 18 months. JDC’s contribution is 1.25 million NIS, which will be supported by donor contributions and JDC core funds. 

What is the importance of our new Center? It is not a secret that Israel is in a crisis in terms of its ability to govern.  Not only is the political system in a crisis, but also the civil service in charge of policy-making and implementing decisions. You may know that only 30% of government decisions in Israel are actually implemented. The crisis intensified this summer with the protests, when it became apparent that there is a wide gap of alienation between the government and the public, to the extent that some of the public does not see the government as its own, or in Lincoln’s words, as “a government of the people, by the people, for the people”. 

The new Center  for Public Leadership will focus on helping senior government officials build a common ethos, values system, and increase their ability to lead, manage and execute decisions. In addition, the Center will help them connect better with the public, and increase their ability to participate in a productive dialogue with the public. 

There are also gaps within the government sector itself, which limit its ability to govern and produce social change. Many senior civil servants function alone, without forming partnerships and networks. However, effective leadership in itself is not sufficient to lead systemic change; in order to do so leaders must work in networks of collaborations. That is part of the role of our new Center for Governance – to develop networks of change within the government itself. 

As an example of a network of collaboration on a regional level, we have started a Regional Development Program, which is responding to the need for partnerships between sectors. Mayors of small municipalities in Israel’s periphery are struggling to raise capital, navigate through rigid bureaucracy, and communicate their ideas to a larger audience. The JDC Institute for Leadership and Governance responded by developing forums where mayors, government officials, non-profit and business leaders could meet to discuss and collaborate on sustainable development projects. These forums have resulted in concrete business initiatives and effective investment strategies. 

Last week, as part of our Regional Development Program in the North supported by the Russell Berrie Foundation, a conference took place which launched the Eastern Galilee Education Forum. 

The conference was held in Tzfat, and was attended by more than 160 people, leaders who deal with education in the region, and are creating the base for the Education Forum: Mayors, Directors of Municipal Education Departments, school principals (from all sectors), Executive Directors of Community Centers, Executive Directors of Colleges, and representatives of non-formal education systems. The conference was also attended by representatives of the Ministry of Education, donors of the new Medical School in Safed, and representatives of organizations that deal with education on a national level: the Mandel Leadership Institute, Asahlim-JDC, the Israel Association of Community Centers, Avney Rosha Institute, Migal – Galilee Technology Center, the National Project for Children and Youth, and JDC’s Project Chotam (“Teach First Israel”). We were also joined by our partners who share our vision for developing the region: The Russell Berrie Foundation, UIA Federations Canada, UJIA, the Rashi Foundation, and the Reut Institute. 

The participants of the Forum sat at mixed tables throughout the evening: Arabs with Jews, Haredim with secular Jews, representatives of large and small regional councils, representatives of formal and informal education systems. All took part in building the foundations for the future of education in the Eastern Galilee. 

The main part of the event included 13 roundtable discussions, where the conference participants talked about the advantages of establishing regional cooperation in the area of education, and started to identify possible areas for collaboration. 

During the conference, many participants expressed excitement, and we felt that we are launching a process that will have a collective impact on the region. Of course, this event was but a first step in a long and complex process that we intend to promote in the Eastern Galilee in the coming years. Together with the mayors, we are building a plan to accompany the process, based on our experience in developing changes of collective impact.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have made the establishment of our new Center for Governance possible – our supporters, partners, the Israeli lay leaders who are working with us, and my wonderful and devoted staff. 




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