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Biden appoints former Jewish Federation president to religious freedom commission

An experienced community leader will join the group dedicated to globally promoting a fundamental human right.

Susie Gelman. Credit: Israel Policy Forum.

In a statement, U.S. President Joe Biden announced plans to add 10 people to four executive organizations, some centered on culture and others on international issues.

Biden has named Susie Gelman as a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Gelman brings extensive experience on the subject, as she has led and contributed to numerous Jewish and Zionist organizations.

From 2016 to 2023, Gelman served as board chair of the Israel Policy Forum. She contributed three presidential terms to the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she is a lifetime member of the board of directors. She is also a member of the ownership group of Mid-Atlantic Media, publisher of the Washington Jewish Week, Baltimore Jewish Times and Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.

One position with an international religious freedom emphasis was Gelman’s time working for the Israel Religious Expressions Platform of the Jewish Federations of North America as co-chair. This initiative pushed for greater pluralism in Israel by promoting freedom of choice in marriage.

Gelman is a graduate of Harvard University and the Georgetown University Law Center. Her leadership experience in higher education includes membership on the board of governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and president of the Georgetown Day School Board of Trustees.

Other appointees included five to the Institute of American Indian Arts Board of Trustees and two to the President’s Export Council. The Route 66 Centennial Commission also will receive two new members—Juliana Stratton and Trait Thompson—who will no doubt get their kicks driving forward a project aspiring to find a way “to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Mother Road of the United States, Route 66, in 2026.”

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