Coinciding with national discussions in the 1980s about women in the workplace, the topic of women in executive positions at Federation was under consideration, as seen in this excerpt of minutes from a Board of Trustees meeting in January, 1984.
Responding to “a problem in relation to the lack of women in executive positions” and the sentiment expressed by Federation leadership (including two of the women who would later become Presidents of the organization) that “everyone needs to be sensitized to this problem and something must be done about it,” in this excerpt we find a mandate for a task force. This task force, composed of Federation and agency leaders, was charged with recruiting more women to “all levels of executive positions.” Indeed, in its nearly 70 year history before the 1986 merger with UJA, Federation had only one female president who served a complete term (Wilma Tisch served from 1980-1983, while Madeline Borg served as acting President for a shortened term, from 1938-1939). We also find some opposition to the idea of more women in leadership positions, in the form of an anti-“affirmative action” argument.
Though the specific actions of the task force at this point remain unclear, perhaps this outline from the year of the merger, titled “Ratio of Women to Men in UJA-Federation Structure,” was a product of their efforts. As of 1986, all categories except one (Board of Directors, New Candidates, Domestic) show that less than half of existing positions were filled by women.
Women in leadership positions continues to be a hot topic. In the case of presidents (the highest office) at UJA-Federation, Peggy Tishman became the first President of the newly merged organization, serving from 1986-1989, and Louise B. Greilsheimer was its fourth President, serving from 1995-1998. Alisa Robbins Doctoroff was appointed President in 2013, and currently holds that office. However, this is still only three women out of ten presidents of UJA-Federation, since 1986.