For Immediate Release: May 8, 2023
Contact: Meredith MacKenzie de Silva, jcpa@westendstrategy.com, (202) 412-4270

As the next CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Amy Spitalnick will expand its historical work bringing diverse communities together to build a strong, multiracial democracy

NEW YORK – Community leaders across the Jewish, civil rights, interfaith, and democracy spaces commended the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) for its selection of Amy Spitalnick as its next CEO. Spitalnick – a powerful national voice on issues of democracy, antisemitism, extremism, and hate – will take the helm of JCPA as it enters a new chapter with a sharpened focus on coalition-building to support a just, democratic, and pluralistic society and combat hate, discrimination, and extremism. Spitalnick most recently served as the Executive Director of Integrity First for America, which won its historic lawsuit against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups behind the Unite the Right violence in Charlottesville. 

Read the full JCPA announcement here.

“Amy Spitalnick helped make history in the successful suit exposing and weakening the dangerous white nationalist thugs who chanted ‘Jews will not replace us’ and were a harbinger of the rising threat of authoritarian, racist, antisemitic violence,” said Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC). “She becomes the leader of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs at a critical moment when it is more important than ever that the Jewish community collectively leans into solidarity with other targeted groups and advocates for a thriving democracy in which all people thrive.”

“I commend the Jewish Council for Public Affairs for appointing Amy Spitalnick as its new Chief Executive Officer,” said William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “Amy is a dedicated and capable community leader, organizer, and activist with whom I have had a longstanding positive working relationship. Amy’s commitment to fighting injustice, antisemitism, and all other forms of discrimination, will undoubtedly help JCPA build a more vibrant and secure Jewish community both here and abroad. We look forward to working with her in her new role.” 

“Amy is a passionate and visionary leader who has been at the forefront of the fight against hate-based extremism and for the protection of America’s democratic values,” said Naomi Adler, CEO, Hadassah. “As CEO of the largest Jewish women’s organization in the country, I am delighted to see that a woman of Amy’s integrity, conviction and track record of inspiring action and driving change has been chosen to lead JCPA at this significant time.”

“At a time when we must fight to defend Democracy and stand up against hate and extremism side-by-side, I look forward to working with the capable and committed Amy Spitalnick. The JCPA is a founding member of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Amy’s appointment is one I welcome to continue and deepen our partnership in creating an America that lives up to its ideals,” said Maya Wiley, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

‘“Amy is a strategic leader who understands that we need strong, cross-community coalitions and systemic change to achieve equity and justice. She wrote a new playbook for holding white nationalists accountable – and successfully marshaled the resources of the Jewish community and beyond in that critical work,” said Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women. “This now makes two millennial women at the helm of legacy Jewish organizations. I’m looking forward to getting in good trouble together as we push Jewish organizations and leaders toward justice.”

“Amy brings a rigorous analysis of white nationalism, antisemitism, and anti-LGBTQ bias that will play a pivotal role in combating threats to democracy and promoting a more just society,” said Idit Klein, President and CEO of Keshet. “In a time of unprecedented legal assaults on LGBTQ people, particularly transgender children, I am confident that under Amy’s leadership, JCPA will be an instrumental partner in mobilizing American Jewish communities to protect LGBTQ+ rights, defend democracy, and build a society where all can live in dignity.”

“I’ve known Amy for the better part of two decades, and her commitment to protecting and strengthening democracy and confronting hate and extremism is unparalleled. She’s exactly the right person to ensure JCPA can meet this critical moment in the fight for our democratic values,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street. 

“Now more than ever, pragmatic leadership like Amy’s is needed to stand up to the threats posed by white supremacists and other hate groups who seek to limit our democracy and spur racially-motivated violence,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. “Amy understands that the fight against antisemitism is crucial for achieving freedom and liberation for all. In fact, she has been on the frontlines of defending our democracy in some of the most important battles of our lifetime. Amy is exactly the right person to bring JCPA into its next chapter and I look forward to our work together.”

“The JCPA has chosen wisely in selecting our friend and ally Amy Spitalnick to lead the organization to the future. Amy earned our respect and admiration for leading the courageous team at Integrity First for America that brilliantly acted to hold accountable the racists and white supremacists behind the deadly 2017 Charlottesville riots,” said Margaret Huang, President and CEO, Southern Poverty Law Center and SPLC Action Fund. “We look forward to working with her and a revitalized JCPA as they continue their historic mission as an essential coalition builder for Jewish and non-Jewish community groups – confronting antisemitism and other forms of bigotry and building a multiracial, inclusive democracy.”

“I welcome the new JCPA as a Jewish partner in the growing anti-bigotry movement dedicated to inclusive democracy. Amy Spitalnick’s leadership and track record bring JCPA into a serious conversation about white nationalism and political violence, said Eric Ward, Executive Vice President of Race Forward. “It has been said that antisemitism is ‘the fuel for the white nationalist engine,’ and it harms all the people who benefit from an inclusive democracy and informed electorate. Under Amy’s leadership, I know that JCPA will begin reducing that harm and will emerge as the leading Jewish voice for democracy.”

“The American Jewish community has thrived in large part because of the ways we have succeeded at intertwining Jewish interests and Jewish values with the frameworks and institutions of American democracy, and our community needs strong institutions that sit at and preserve that intersection,” said Yehuda Kurtzer, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. “JCPA has a huge role to play on behalf of the American Jewish community at the forefront of this work, and Amy Spitalnick – with her track record advocating on behalf of America to be the best version of itself, for all its citizens – is an inspired choice to lead this effort.”

“American democracy is being challenged by extremism, and the American Jewish community needs to respond. Thankfully, Amy Spitalnick is taking the helm of the JCPA at exactly the right time. Amy’s leadership in bringing together diverse constituencies is precisely what we need,” said Hadar Susskind, President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now.

“If we want this country to continue to thrive as a vibrant, pluralistic democracy where Jews can live freely, then we need to lean into the work of building and being part of coalitions that will fight for our democratic norms and against the extremism that threatens the fabric of our society,” said Jeremy Burton, Chief Executive Officer, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. “No one is better prepared than Amy to lead this work forward and to realize the vast potential of our broad network of local community relations councils. Together, with her leadership, we can be a force for positive engagement in inter-community partnership. The whole has the potential to be greater than the sum of its parts, and Amy is the leader we need to get us there.”

“Amy literally built her career fighting extremism and teaching America what it means to utilize the systems of democracy to preserve and protect democracy,” said Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St Louis. “At this moment in which partisanship and division continue to rise to all-time highs, the work of community relations is more important than ever before. Through her unwavering commitment to social justice and her demonstrated leadership in public policy advocacy, Amy is poised to usher in a new era of progress and impact for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.”

“Like our country, the American Jewish community is becoming increasingly fractured. If we are to address today’s critical issues, like rising antisemitism and hate, growing racial and economic divides, and the weakening of our democracy, we need the type of leader who can bring people together. The community relations field gets that. And Amy Spitalnick gets that. JCPA was made for this moment, and with Amy at the helm the organization will be strongly positioned to unlock the full potential that coalition building can have to heal our divides and build a more just and democratic society,” said Tyler Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area.

“Amy’s entrepreneurial spirit in fighting antisemitism, hate and all forms of bigotry, which she showcased at IFA, gives her a unique perspective from her JCPA perch,” said Josh Sayles, President of the JCRC Directors Association and Director of Jewish Community Relations and Government Affairs for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. “The JCRC field is looking forward to partnering with her on cutting-edge ideas that make the United States a safer place not only for Jewish people but for all communities impacted by extremists attempting to normalize anti-democratic values. We are excited to be on the front lines with a newly restructured and revitalized JCPA.”

“I’ve known Amy since The Museum of Jewish Heritage became one of the first institutions to support Amy and Integrity First for America in the historic lawsuit against the hate groups behind the violence in Charlottesville. Few have put their passion to work the way that she has, whether she’s fighting against antisemitism, fascism, racism, and white supremacy or advocating for an inclusive, fair, and just society. Amy is on the side of truth and justice, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs will benefit greatly from her leadership at this moment,” said Jack Kliger, President and CEO, Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

“Striving toward a thriving, equitable multiracial democracy requires experienced leadership, visionary strategic thinking, and patient relationship-building. Amy brings all that and more to this long-term project we are all engaged in – and at no better time in history. As we navigate ever-increasing complexities and constantly-changing dynamics, Amy will be the partner we all need to help lead through it all,” said Abby Levine, Executive Director, Jewish Social Justice Roundtable.

“With our democracy in peril, Amy is a great choice to lead JCPA. She is a rare and brilliant leader for these challenging times, with both the courage to confront darkness and the moral vision to call all of us toward the light. I’ve been fortunate to work with Amy in a variety of roles for more than a decade, including in her ongoing capacity as a Senior Advisor to Human Rights First, and I look forward to our continued collaboration as she steps into leadership once again,” said Michael Breen, CEO, Human Rights First.

“We are at a moment in the U.S. and in our Jewish community where there is serious, thoughtful work to be done and bridges to be built and reinforced across lines of difference if we want to protect and promote justice and equity. At such a moment, we are immensely fortunate that Amy Spitalnick has been selected to lead the Jewish Council of Public Affairs as it defines a new strategy to work for democracy. Amy brings to this position immense experience in fighting antisemitism and extremism, in creating alliances, and in knowing when and how to speak truth to power. She has the integrity, the passion, and the skill to work in multiracial and interfaith settings for the changes that are needed in both the U.S. and Israel,” said Ruth Messinger, Global Ambassador and Past President of American Jewish World Service.

“We’re thrilled about Amy’s appointment as CEO of JCPA, an organization long at the heart of vibrant Jewish civic engagement in this country. Challenging times call for bold and visionary leadership, and Amy’s commitment to truth, nuance, and justice is exactly what the moment calls for. We’re eager to partner with Amy and JCPA to protect and strengthen the democracy on which thriving American Jewish life depends,” said Aaron Dorfman, Executive Director of A More Perfect Union.

“Amy Spitalnick is the right person at the right time to lead JCPA into its next chapter. As an advisory board member of IFA, I saw her take it from a vision to a force for change that was able to shine a light on antisemitism and racism. She is a vocal advocate who is an effective leader who will work with diverse partners within and beyond the Jewish community to promote democracy and fight against antisemitism and hatred of all marginalized groups in our society,” said Nancy Kaufman, New York Jewish Agenda Board Chair, and former CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women and Boston Jewish Community Relations Council.

“At a moment of rising bigotry, extremism, and white nationalism, it’s critical that we connect across difference to safeguard our shared principles,” Simran Jeet Singh, Executive Director of the Religion & Society Program at the Aspen Institute. “Amy understands this – and has the necessary experience to build networks of solidarity to bolster inclusive democracy. I look forward to working together with Amy and JCPA to protect pluralism, advance inclusion, and fight discrimination, which limits the potential of the American project.”

 

“This is an existential moment for our country. Democracy is under attack. Hate, including but not limited to antisemitism, is on the rise. Amy’s life’s work, which has earned her widespread respect inside and outside our Jewish community, sits at the intersection of these fundamentally and inextricably linked fights. That’s why she’s the right leader to take on this role at this crucial time,” said Oren Jacobson, Executive Director of Project Shema and Co-Executive Director of Men4Choice.

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