(April 22, 2020 / JNS) The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group with 53 member organizations, announced this week that it is nominating Dianne Lob, a former chairwoman of HIAS, to be the new chair of its executive board.
Lob, who has worked as head of global business development for AllianceBernstein, an investment management firm, would succeed Arthur Stark, who served as a past chairman of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
In a press release, the Conference noted that, “If elected, Ms. Lob will be the third woman to Chair the Conference, following Shoshana Cardin (1991-1992) and June Walker (2007-2008).”
The appointment has stirred several objections from many longtime members and financial supporters, who are uncomfortable with the political positions of HIAS that have clashed repeatedly with the Trump administration over recent U.S. immigration policies.
“Ms. Lob was recommended by a splintered Nominating Committee, and her nomination has caused a serious rift in the Conference of Presidents,” said Roberta Goldstein, former national chairwoman of State of Israel Bonds. “It is very sad to see this happening at a time when the Conference should be working to unite the American Jewish community,” she told JNS.
Founded in 1881 as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the organization played a vital role throughout the 20th century in providing services for Jewish refugees to settle in the United States and elsewhere, particularly after World War II and the Holocaust. However, in recent decades with the shrinking numbers of Jewish refugees, the organization rebranded itself as HIAS and shifted its focus “to protect and assist refugees of all faiths and ethnicities.”
In an email sent to objectors, obtained by JNS, Stark wrote, “I would recommend that your view of HIAS should not be conflated with Dianne as a leader. She has demonstrated, in seeking to take on this role, a thoughtful and centrist outlook.”
The Conference of Presidents, established in 1955 to provide a unified voice for the American Jewish community, works to serve as a liaison to the U.S. president and executive branch. Its mission is “to strengthen all aspects of the U.S.-Israel relationship and to protect and enhance the security and dignity of Jews at home and abroad.”
Lob’s nomination cements a transition period for the Conference, which has been led for 35 years by former executive vice chairman Malcolm Hoenlein.
He remains in a part-time capacity while the organization is now headed by recently installed CEO William Daroff, longtime senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America.
A roll-call vote of member organizations to approve Lob’s nomination is scheduled to take place via Zoom on April 28.
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