Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum has been selected to participate in the Distinguished Humphrey Leadership Program.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the three-week program is designed to bring together senior officials from around the world with professional counterparts in the United States to facilitate leadership development, multilateral collaboration and cooperation on shared global challenges.

The program, established in 2016, is an offshoot of the renowned Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, which has been running since 1978. The program honors the public service career of the late U.S. senator and vice president, a long-time advocate of international cooperation and understanding.

Hassan-Nahoum is one of 10 leaders selected to participate in this year’s program.

The Fellows will spend 18 days in September in the United States, starting in Washington, D.C., followed by a seven-day course at the Harvard Kennedy School, the public policy school of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Then, they travel individually to various cities to be paired for a few days with counterparts who are doing similar work. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, which nominated Hassan-Nahoum, recommended that she be assigned to either Chicago or New York.

After that, it’s back to Washington for more coursework.

“It’s very prestigious, and I’m honored and thrilled,” said the Jerusalem deputy mayor. “Of course, I said yes, but apart from providing my CV and passport number, I had nothing to do with actually getting it. Everything was done on my behalf by the embassy.” 

Embassy staff disagreed.

“Whenever we have looked at candidates for this particular program, we’re looking for people who are working in leadership capacities, with strong interactions across the embassy. With Fleur, she really embodies that. She is not only in close contact with the public diplomacy section but also the economic and political sections,” Kim Natoli, director of the embassy’s American Center in Jerusalem, told JNS.

“Her portfolio is quite encompassing, dealing with international affairs, economic development, tourism and Diaspora affairs. So many sections of the embassy have come into contact with her. She is known as Jerusalem’s unofficial foreign minister, and she is going to play an important role going forward,” said Natoli. She also said that one of the main focuses for U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides “is to really deepen and expand the impact of the Abraham Accords, and Fleur has been particularly important in that area.” 

The 48-year-old, London-born deputy mayor is a co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, an association of Emirati and Israeli business and government leaders fostering bilateral trade, innovation and cooperation. She also co-founded the Gulf-Israel Women’s Forum, established as the first association bringing together female leaders from across the Middle East and has a strong network of contacts in Bahrain and Morocco. Hassan-Nahoum is also a finalist to serve as the chairperson of the Jewish Agency.

Felicity Aziz, deputy director of the American Center Jerusalem, told JNS that Hassan-Nahoum is “strong on equality, inclusion, diversity and ensuring more equal civil society,” in both the western and eastern parts of the city.

“Fleur and Ambassador Nides sat down recently and talked through so many issues, including her role for the city in East Jerusalem, providing equal opportunities, and building a kind of Silicon Valley in East Jerusalem,” Aziz told JNS.

“She also brings a female perspective coming from the Middle East,” added Aziz, noting that a woman leader from the United Arab Emirates was also selected for the program.

According to a source, that leader is Mariam Almheiri, an Emirati politician who currently serves as the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment. Other representatives hail from Albania, China, Ghana, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, Poland and Uzbekistan.

“I think it’s a very exciting thing that an elected official can get to build a wide international network for the good of our own cities and countries, sharing best practices, that will help us improve life for our constituents,” said Hassan-Nahoum.

Following the program’s completion, Hassan-Nahoum will find herself in a prestigious State Department alumni network, as part of the sixth cohort of the Distinguished Humphrey Leadership Program and of the larger Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program.

The even broader State Department-administered International Visitor Leadership Program has produced more than 500 current or former chiefs of state or heads of government.

“We haven’t known Fleur for a long time, but our initial reaction was that this woman is going to make changes,” said Natoli, noting that when this year’s nomination paperwork came to her office, she and Aziz came to the same immediate conclusion. “We read it and literally at the same time said: ‘We have to nominate Fleur.’ “

JNS

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