Harriet Schleifer has been elected president of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the leading global Jewish advocacy organization. The first woman to head AJC since its founding in 1906, Schleifer was elected by AJC’s Board of Governors during the June AJC Global Forum. She succeeds John Shapiro.
“I am deeply honored, and thankful, to be entrusted with leading over the next three years, in partnership with AJC staff and lay leaders, the most dynamic, pioneering and effective organization in American Jewish life,” said Schleifer. “I am a great believer in the value of Jewish advocacy. AJC is helping transform and ensure the Jewish future.”
AJC CEO David Harris said, “Harriet Schleifer’s passion for the Jewish people, for core American democratic values, for Israel, for Yiddishkeit, combined with her unbounded energy are distinctive attributes that, under her leadership, will propel AJC’s pioneering work in confronting the many challenges facing Jews in the U.S., Israel and around the world.”
A resident of Chappaqua, Schleifer has been involved with AJC since 2004, first as a member and then president of the AJC Westchester/Fairfield Regional Office. She joined AJC’s national Board of Governors (BOG) in 2007 and has served on the AJC Executive Council since 2013. From 2014 to 2016, Schleifer served as chair of Project Interchange, AJC’s educational program that has brought to Israel more than 6,000 leaders from across the U.S. and other countries around the world, and as Chair of AJC’s Board of Governors from 2016 to 2019.
“As a child of Holocaust survivors from Poland, Jewish continuity is so much a part of my being. I want to be sure we are always in a position of strength, creating our own destiny,” said Schleifer, who has also served as president of her Conservative synagogue in Westchester. “Knowing our history, our tradition is vital to understanding and honoring the past, confronting the challenges we face as Jews today and readying for future tasks.”
The directorship position in the AJC Central Europe office in Warsaw was endowed and is dedicated to the memory of her parents, Rubin and Frances Partel. They arrived in New York City in 1947, with the assistance of HIAS, to resettle and start anew in the U.S.
“They instilled in my sister and me identity, memory and remembrance, resilience of the human spirit, coping with tragedy but having to live a life and still remember,” Schleifer said of her parents in an interview with the Jerusalem Post at the opening of AJC Central Europe in March 2017.
Earlier in her career, Schleifer practiced law with a focus on education and has extensive professional and personal experience representing students with special needs. Together with her husband, Dr. Leonard Schleifer, they helped revitalize what is now named the Chapel Haven Schleifer Center, a residential school and organization in New Haven, Connecticut, that provides services for people with developmental and social disabilities.
Other senior AJC officers elected at the AJC Global Forum include: Anthony Meyer, Chair, Board of Governors; Matthew Bronfman, Chair, Board of Trustees; Steven Wisch, Associate Chair, Board of Trustees; Cliff Goldstein, Associate Chair, Board of Trustees; Kim Pimley, Chair, Advocacy; Michael Tichnor, Chair, Leadership Development; Matthew Coen, Chair, Global Communications; Frank Linde, Treasurer/Secretary; and David Berz, Associate Treasurer/Budget Committee.