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Approach with Caution - Rough Waters
Approach this organization as a potential employee or donor with care. The Academy is a 170+ institution that started in an entirely different era as a resource/club for (male, white) doctors and is now an accretion of professional association, library and think tank aspirant. It does not have a clear sense of institutional self, small wonder given its history. The recent pivot to Health Equity was totally top-down and smacks of jumping on the bandwagon of an urgent issue of the moment. After years of focus on urban health across the various departments, why health equity? There is no clear institutional definition of it, no case for why it matters or matter more than any number of other public health concerns, no vision statement -merely a social media campaign of random testimonials not tied to any actual health equity impacts made by the organization. Where is the business case for the Academy doing health equity when its spent 174 years doing other stuff? Your professional efforts or charitable dollars might as well go to Robert Wood Johnson Foundation or more local NYC Health Equity Initiative who have proven track records of positive results. I was excited and hopeful when new president, Judith Salerno, came on board. But her default setting is dismissive and disconnected. She brought in no major gifts, contracts or great relationships during her honeymoon period as new president. Her management style makes teams territorial, scrambling over resources, pitted against one another rather than coming together. She allows her senior staff to be micromanagerial -a waste of time and brain power- as well as microaggressive meaning the morale of the place is dismal. Ironically, it is not a very equitable workplace: a staffer was called out for taking parental leave in a public meeting, African American employees dragooned into random meetings in blatant shows of tokenism, and while I fully support nonprofit professionals making good money, leadership and senior staff make immense 6 figure salaries. while we couldn't have a extra $175 router to ensure wifi in an event space. There is no assured cost of living increase annually; its inappropriately unbalanced. It may make sense to take a position at the Academy as a rung for 2-4 years in your career ladder; depends a lot on the immediate team and direct boss. It is a moment of organizational change and turmoil there; only time will show whether this is a moment of turnaround and rebirth for the 21st century or being mismanaged into the ground. Clearly Salerno and the board are trying to make some kind of omelet (they just don't see fit to tell the staff what kind, if they even know). Ask yourself- will they make you the broken egg shells or part of the cooked omelet?
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