Longtime CEO of the American Jewish Committee David Harris announced on Thursday that he will be stepping down in May after 31 years in the position.

Harris said in a news release that it was an honor to have been selected as CEO in 1990 after first joining the AJC staff in 1979 and praised the support he received from AJC staff members in the execution of his work.

“Every single day, I have been grateful beyond words for the opportunity to pursue my lifelong mission—to assist Jews in danger worldwide, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, combat anti-Semitism and defend democratic values against the radical right and the totalitarian left,” he said. “Now, after more than three decades, I believe it’s time to pass the baton to a successor, as our Jewish story, I’ve always thought, is a kind of relay race. That will happen in May 2022, at the next AJC Global Forum in Washington, D.C.”

Harris said that he will stay active as a consultant for an additional year to help transition to his replacement.

“In these unsettling times for the Jewish people, AJC’s 115 years of frontline experience, record of tangible success, unparalleled access to the halls of power and strict nonpartisanship are as vital as ever,” he wrote. “And for the next year, I will be devoting every ounce of intellectual, emotional and physical energy to AJC’s programmatic and institutional priorities, as I have tried to do since that first moment in 1990.”

His successor will be chosen by the AJC Succession Committee, led by AJC honorary president John Shapiro, the AJC executive council and an outside international executive search agency, Heidrick & Struggles, to find a “visionary leader who will set the course for the next era of Jewish advocacy,” according to the release.

“For the past 31 years as CEO, David has built AJC into the leading global Jewish advocacy organization it is today,” wrote AJC president Harriet P. Schleifer in a letter to AJC’s leadership. “A tireless visionary and a passionate advocate for world Jewry, the State of Israel and democratic values, David’s leadership has been a gift to AJC and to the Jewish people.”


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