For Immediate Release: May 8, 2023
Contact: Meredith MacKenzie de Silva, email@example.com, (202) 412-4270
Amy Spitalnick – a powerful advocate against rising antisemitism, hate, and extremism who spearheaded the successful effort to hold the Unite the Right neo-Nazis accountable – will lead JCPA into its next chapter
NEW YORK – The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the national convener of Jewish coalitions working to build a just and inclusive American democracy, today announced that Amy Spitalnick – a powerful national voice on issues of democracy, antisemitism, extremism, and hate – will serve as the next CEO of the organization, following an extensive nationwide search. Amy most recently served as the Executive Director of Integrity First (IFA) for America, which won its historic lawsuit against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups behind the Unite the Right violence in Charlottesville.
“For more than a year, JCPA worked closely with leading Federations, Jewish Community Relations Councils (JCRCs), and other key partners on a restructuring to be more focused and better able to advance the Jewish community relations agenda,” said JCPA Board Chair David Bohm. “I am excited that Amy agreed to join JCPA as our new CEO, as I am confident that she is the right person to lead us into the future as we work to protect and advance American democracy, combat bias and hate, including antisemitism, and advocate for a Jewish and democratic state of Israel.”
“I am thrilled to be a part of this new chapter of JCPA,” said Amy Spitalnick, the new CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “We’re facing a crisis of anti-democratic extremism and bigotry that jeopardizes not just Jewish safety but the safety of so many communities across the country. A strong, strategic, and independent JCPA is more important than ever right now, building the deep coalitions and partnerships that are critical to the pursuit of an inclusive, multiracial democracy where all can thrive.”
JCPA recently announced its new strategic focus, building on its nearly 80-year legacy convening the Jewish community to work toward a just and inclusive society and a strong, multiracial democracy, greatly expanding on its historical work bringing diverse racial, ethnic, faith, and civic leaders and communities together, as well as continuing to support a democratic, Jewish, and secure state of Israel.
“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 of the 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 partnerships. 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.”
The heart of JCPA’s coalition-building and relationship-building work will include two coalitions focused on preserving and strengthening American democracy and combatting discrimination, bigotry, and exclusion.
“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.”
JCPA’s work to strengthen American democracy and promote inclusion intersects with many different social, political, and economic issues – combating extremism, hate violence, and disinformation; protecting voting rights and election integrity; criminal justice reform; racial justice, LGBTQ rights, immigration rights, and reproductive rights; and more.
Through its coalition work, JCPA will partner with both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations and leaders to advance these strategic priorities on the national and local levels – including through its continued engagement work with Jewish Community Relations Councils across the country. This reflects an expanded commitment to civic and intergroup engagement through an effective and increasingly strategic network that mobilizes and advocates – including through JCRCs and national organizations – with a focus on the health of our democratic society and the protection of civil and human rights.
Partners in the work to strengthen democracy and fight hate and discrimination welcomed the announcement.
“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.”
“Amy is a strategic leader who understands that we need strong, cross-community coalitions and systemic change to achieve equity and justice,” said Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women. “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. 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.”
For a full list of comments from partners and stakeholders, click here.
The mission of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is to strengthen and leverage the Jewish community relations network across the nation to champion a just, democratic, and pluralistic society and advance the right of full inclusion of all members of our society, including Jews, free of discrimination, hate, and prejudice.
Inspired by Jewish values of human dignity and equal justice under the law and an abiding commitment to vibrant and secure Jewish communities here, in Israel, and throughout the world JCPA convenes and catalyzes its network to work with public officials, build deep relations, and engage in advocacy coalitions based on shared goals.
About Amy Spitalnick
Amy most recently served as Executive Director of Integrity First for America (IFA), which won its groundbreaking lawsuit against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups responsible for the 2017 Charlottesville violence. Under Amy’s leadership, IFA became a powerful national voice in the fight against white supremacy, antisemitism, and extremism – and its Charlottesville case has emerged as a model for accountability.
Amy also serves as Senior Advisor on Extremism at Human Rights First and on the Advisory Board of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL) at American University. She is currently partnering with the Aspen Institute and several major foundations on a project exploring how to better connect the fight against antisemitism with the pursuit of an inclusive, pluralistic American democracy.
She has extensive experience in government, politics, and advocacy, including as Communications Director and Senior Policy Advisor to the New York Attorney General and as a spokesperson and advisor to the New York City Mayor. She has also worked for a number of federal, state, and local officials, campaigns, and advocacy organizations, including as J Street’s first press secretary.
Amy frequently appears in national media and has been awarded many fellowships and honors, including being named a Women in Power Fellow at the 92nd Street Y, a Truman National Security Project Fellow, a City & State 40 Under 40 Rising Star, and a NY Jewish Week 36 Under 36 Changemaker. She graduated from Tufts University.