David Harris
David HarrisINN:DH

The longtime CEO of the American Jewish Committee will be leaving his post in May of next year after leading the Jewish advocacy organization for 31 years, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) announced.

David Harris said in a statement that it had been an honor to serve as CEO since 1990. He first joined the AJC in 1979.

He also lauded the work of the organization’s staff members during his tenure.

“Every single day, I have been grateful beyond words for the opportunity to pursue my lifelong mission – to assist Jews in danger worldwide, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, combat anti-Semitism and defend democratic values against the radical right and the totalitarian left,” he said.

“Now, after more than three decades, I believe it’s time to pass the baton to a successor, as our Jewish story, I’ve always thought, is a kind of relay race.”

The new CEO will be introduced at the AJC Global Forum in Washington DC next May.

Harris plans to continue as a consultant for the AJC until 2023 in order to ensure the transition goes smoothly.

“In these unsettling times for the Jewish people, AJC’s 115 years of frontline experience, record of tangible success, unparalleled access to the halls of power and strict nonpartisanship are as vital as ever,” he said. “And for the next year, I will be devoting every ounce of intellectual, emotional and physical energy to AJC’s programmatic and institutional priorities, as I have tried to do since that first moment in 1990.”

The group’s new leader will be chosen by the AJC Succession Committee, composed of AJC honorary president John Shapiro, the AJC executive council and an outside international executive search agency, Heidrick & Struggles.

They hope to find a “visionary leader who will set the course for the next era of Jewish advocacy,” according to a statement.

“For the past 31 years as CEO, (Harris) has built AJC into the leading global Jewish advocacy organization it is today,” said AJC president Harriet P. Schleifer. “A tireless visionary and a passionate advocate for world Jewry, the State of Israel and democratic values, David’s leadership has been a gift to AJC and to the Jewish people.”