July 11, 2016; Forward

In a building on Fifth Avenue, located next to Grand Central Station, Inspera Partners LLC has an office on the fourth floor where it is possible to rent all-inclusive space, complete with climate-controlled data room, support and IT services. Ira Machowsky runs the firm, doing executive searches for nonprofit organizations on some of the most expensive real estate in New York.

From 1980 until December of 2014, Machowsky held various positions of responsibility with the Federal Employment and Guidance Service, the nonprofit organization known as FEGS. He rose as high as the number two spot, Executive Vice President, where he stayed from 2007 until he left, walking away with $127,000 in bonuses and unused vacation time. A month later, FEGS announced it was closing due to a $20 million deficit.

Part of the failure of FEGS has been laid at the feet of rapid growth of government contracts that do not pay full costs and open up an ever-increasing need to generate other funds. Perhaps in response to this, and in an environment in which social enterprise was being lauded as a financial cure-all, the organization established AllSector, a subsidiary of the nonprofit, which was supposed to create revenue for FEGS by selling IT services to others and itself. Machowsky was AllSector’s internal champion and external face, making bold statements about its success even while it apparently syphoned $72 million from FEGS from 2008 to 2014, steadily eroding the organization’s capacity to withstand a hit. Some blame for the agency’s collapse has been attributed to poor financial information—provided, by the way, by the social enterprise subsidiary to the parent.

Back in the here and now, the Bronx House community center and YM&YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood—both agencies of the UJA-Federation of which FEGS was a member—have recently hired Machowsky’s firm to search for their next financial executives. Ironically, Machowsky himself still seems bullish on social enterprise:

I think of Inspera Partners as a social enterprise of sorts and am tremendously excited to have the opportunity to bridge my lifelong commitment to the nonprofit and social good sector by bringing great workforce talent, operational resources and innovation to help nonprofits and social good organizations.

Machowsky has a B.A. from Queens College in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis, has completed the coursework for an M.A. from NYU in Rehabilitation Counseling, and has an M.A. in H.R. Management from the New School. His firm does not list financial counseling as a service on the website. Machowsky has never commented publicly about the closing of FEGS. It seems some individuals are particularly good at bouncing back.—Marian Conway