Alumni Survey & LAJF Governance (1 reply and 1 comment)
This thread is intended for discussion about the alumni survey currently being conducted (answer the survey here: http://tinyurl.com/surveyCRS2015), and any ideas to reform the LAJF governance structure so that it is more responsive to alumni initiatives.
SaveCRS Response to LAJF Survey
April 19, 2015
Dear Friends and Alumni of CRS,
The Board of Directors of the Louis August Jonas Foundation has recently released a survey to “obtain a quantitative assessment of many of the issues that have been brought up in meetings, emails, and other forms of alumni communication with LAJF.” We appreciate this step toward dialogue, and other recent gestures on the part of the LAJF to reach out to alumni and friends.
We suggest that everyone complete the survey and use the blank space for the answer to question “Q8c” to express your opinion of the survey and thoughts on governance. If you have already completed the survey, you can still go back and answer "Q8C". Q8c asks for “your suggestions for increasing alumni support.” This is one of the few spaces on the poll where your answer is not predetermined by multiple-choice, and is the only open-ended question. We would urge you to use that space to comment on the survey itself.
There are two areas in which we find the survey problematic: 1) in the questions relating to finance and programming; 2) in the absence of questions relating to governance.
1) Finance: We were disappointed that the Board is offering moving, closing or seriously altering CRS programming as options being seriously considered at this time. These choices are being offered in response to an unspecified shortfall in revenue. However, for us to make informed responses to the questions being asked, the board needs to make public past, present and projected budgets, verifiable third party estimates of the cost of re-opening the RH campus and maintaining the Clinton campus, as well as estimates of projected future revenue, rate of investment return on the endowment as well as planned endowment spending and detailed estimates of the amounts to be saved through each of the proposed program cuts.
In the section entitled “Options to Avoid Closing Down CRS Camps,” the survey assumes there is a drastic financial crisis, but provides no information on how much money would be needed to restore CRS programming to its 2014 levels and locations. The questions asked in this section are divided into two categories: “Possible Options to Increase Revenues” and “Possible Options to Decrease Costs”. The possible options to increase revenues are all legitimate, but there is no indication of how much additional money would be needed to avoid having to curtail CRS programming. The only possible options presented to decrease costs are choices to alter CRS from the way it has been run for years: co-locating (boys and girls on the same camp site), 4-week sessions, alternating single-gender years, reducing the number of campers from 120 to 60 (total boys and girls) and closing either the girls’ or boys’ camp.
There are no questions in the survey with respect to limiting LAJF spending unrelated to operating CRS. There is no mention of lowering or eliminating expenses relating to alumni programming, the New York City office, or other expenses that LAJF incurs not directly related to running the seasonal program.
We believe that increased fundraising accompanied by reductions in the number of permanent staff, closing of the New York City office, decreases in management and administrative expenses as well as program expenses not directly related to seasonal programming would allow LAJF to preserve the two separate camps as full-summer experiences at their heritage locations.
2) Governance: LAJF's long term sustainability depends on it being well governed, and we find it problematic that the survey asks no questions about LAJF's governance structure. The second resolution of the SaveCRS Declaration expresses our view best, and has almost 500 signatures supporting it:
"This crisis has highlighted the need for a new governance structure. At present, membership to the board is by invitation only. We call for a system which would provide a measure of accountability and guarantee all alumni of Camp Rising Sun to be automatically enfranchised as “Members” of the governing structure with voting privileges and at no cost. We call for a system under which Directors of the LAJF are elected by the “Members” of the CRS alumni community on a regular cycle and through a process to be decided by an alumni-wide inclusive deliberation…."
We continue to believe that a more representative governance of the LAJF would be the single most effective way to increase alumni support. A truly enfranchised body of alumni and friends would bring a real “New Dawn” to CRS.
The Board has indicated governance reform is something that it is considering, and we applaud them for doing so, but we believe it premature to be asking people if they will increase their donations to LAJF without the board also indicating what steps they are proposing to take to improve the governance of the Foundation.
We believe the survey is a step in the right direction, but unfortunately asks too few questions and is accompanied with too little information for respondents to make informed choices between the limited set of options presented. Until LAJF provides alumni and friends of CRS the full and complete information needed to consider the choices presented to them, the results of any poll may be suspect. Moreover, a survey is not a substitute for true dialogue or a democratic decision making processes.
We and others will be much more confident in making donations to LAJF when (a) the board indicates clearly what it will take to restore CRS programming and (b) LAJF has, in some measure, some formal accountability to the alumni from whom it seeks financial and philosophical support.
We are committed to working with the LAJF and the CRS community to align our way forward with the mission of the LAJF, quoted at the top of the survey, of “compassionate and responsible leadership.”
This response has been signed by the following Alumni & Friends.
If you would like to add your thoughts, please do so on the survey and share your thoughts on this CRS Alumni Forum
CRS ’82, ‘83
CRS ’82, ‘83
CRS '80, '81
CRS ’64, ‘65
CRS '97C, '98, '99, '00, '01 Clinton ACD, '03 Head Chef & '07 Camp Director
John (J.C.) Calderon
CRS ’81, ’82, ‘84K
Dr. Jonathan J. Cole
CRS '46,'47','48, Counselor '52
Sanat Dixit, MD
CRS ’84, ‘85
CRS ’81, ‘82
CRS '48 & '49, former LAJF Board Member 1980's; Board Member Emeritus
Alejandro (Alex) Garcia-Osuna Polanco
CRS ’89, ‘90
CRS '80, '81
CRS ’78, ’79, former LAJF Board Member
CRS ‘85, French Selection Committee
Menahem Kanafi (Chuck Kane)
CRS ‘91, ‘92, ‘97C, ‘11 volunteer
CRS '45, '46, '47
William A. Klaus
CRS '83, '84
CRS '01, '02, '11C
CRS '95, '96
Ted Lewis (Rexin)
Socrates Litsios ScD
CRS ‘51, ’52
Paul Lombardi, MD
CRS '81, '82
C. Scott Lopez-Gelormino
CRS ‘85, ‘86, ‘87CA (Camp Assistant)
CRS ’79C, Assistant Camp Director ‘80-82
Ilya Novofastovsky, Esq.
CRS '89 '90
Irwin Nydick, MD
CRS ’39, ’40, ’41, ’42, counselor, LAJF Board member, MAC member, many years of various committees work
CRS ‘65, ‘66
Stephen G. Racioppo
CRS '68, former LAJF Board Member BOD ~1997-’02
CRS Counselor ’91, ’92
CRS '79-81 music counselor, '88 program director, '93-'95 Clinton music counselor, 1-2 weeks thereafter at both camps in many years, '07 Red Hook music counselor, '08 Clinton music counselor
CRS ‘02-‘05, Caretaker at the boys camp; B&G committee ‘02-‘14
CRS ’84, ‘85
CRS ’78, ‘79, former LAJF Board Member early 1990s
CRS ’81, ‘82
Nicholas Skipitaris, MD
Benjamin T. Suratt, MD
CRS ’81, ‘82
John N. Tumino
CRS ’81, ‘82, former LAJF Board Member BOD '92 - '97
Robin Michael Tung
Please add my signature to the response to the survey.
"Moreover, a survey is not a substitute for true dialogue or a democratic decision making processes."
A survey can be manipulated, with a high degree of certainty, to provide any answer the surveyor wishes. And furthermore, the answers may be 'interpreted' to expound upon the meaning of the 'correct' answers that the surveyor intended to elicit.
I categorically do not trust surveys unless otherwise convinced that there is an open process for all opinions about the survey itself and what questions should be asked, and how they are phrased, and what the options for answers should be.