Former US special envoy Elan Carr named CEO of Israeli American Council

Elan Carr's career spans various roles as a US diplomat, military officer, criminal prosecutor, and community leader, and he has been linked to the IAC since its founding in 2007.

 Elan S. Carr (photo credit: Noam Galai/Israel-American Council (IAC))
Elan S. Carr
(photo credit: Noam Galai/Israel-American Council (IAC))

The Israeli American Council (IAC) announced the appointment of Elan S. Carr, a former US special envoy, as its next chief executive officer. Carr will officially assume his new role on October 1, taking over from Shoham Nicolet, who has been the co-founder and CEO of the IAC for the past eight years.

Carr, a second-generation Israeli-American and fluent Hebrew speaker, has been closely associated with the IAC since its inception in 2007 when his parents were among the organization’s initial founders.

His appointment comes after several high-profile Jewish professionals expressed interest in the role, but were ultimately turned down once Carr’s name was suggested. This decision may be seen by some as a political statement, considering Carr’s previous association with the Trump administration, which has led to the departure of some left-wing supporters from the IAC in recent years.

Members of the Israeli-American community have said after the announcement that Carr will need to work very intensely in order to gain the trust of left-wing or more liberal Israeli Americans. Others have said, however, that they believe Carr can succeed in bringing the organization closer to the American Jewish community.

In response to his appointment, Carr expressed his excitement, stating, “I am deeply honored to assume the helm of the IAC at this important time, and I’m excited by the organization’s enormous potential...” Carr emphasized the organization’s ability to address pressing challenges such as assimilation and antisemitism by combining community engagement, civic activism, youth programs, educational initiatives, leadership development, and Israel advocacy.

 Elan Carr (credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Elan Carr (credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Who is Elan Carr?

Carr’s career includes serving as the US special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, where he led efforts to combat antisemitism both domestically and abroad during former US president Donald Trump’s presidency. During his tenure, he achieved agreements with foreign nations and organized the first-ever US government-sponsored conference on combating online hate. Additionally, Carr played a pivotal role in shaping the global consensus on the definition of antisemitism and addressing issues related to anti-Zionism and campus antisemitism.

Before his federal appointment, Carr served as a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County, where he prosecuted violent felony crimes, including murders, hate crimes, child molestation, and cases involving notorious criminal street gangs. His commitment to service is further reflected in his two-decade-long service as an officer in the US Army Reserve, which included deployment to Iraq during 2003-04, where he played a crucial role in life-saving missions and the prosecution of terrorists.

Born and raised in New York City, Carr practiced law at leading corporate law firms in New York and Los Angeles. He also spent a year in Israel as a legal adviser to Israel’s Justice Ministry, contributing to the establishment of the country’s first-ever public defender program.

Carr’s dedication to his faith and community is evident through his role as the 71st international president of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), a global Jewish fraternity. In this capacity, he led efforts to combat campus antisemitism and address assimilation among the fraternity’s alumni and student members.

Naty Saidoff, chairman of the IAC board of directors, expressed enthusiasm for Carr’s appointment, emphasizing his deep connection to the Israeli-American community and his commitment to strengthening ties between the US and Israel. Tal Shuster, chairwoman of the IAC’s CEO Search Committee, highlighted Carr’s passion, connection, commitment, and vision for the future of the IAC as key factors in his selection.

Outgoing CEO Shoham Nicolet reflected on his time at the IAC, stating, “Leading the IAC has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Elan embodies the values and vision of the IAC, and I am confident that with Elan at the helm, the organization will continue to flourish and achieve new milestones.”

Notable funders of the IAC such as Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban have played a crucial role in the organization’s growth, despite political differences affecting Saban’s contributions. The IAC’s annual national conferences have become prominent platforms for American and Israeli politicians and business leaders to discuss various issues, attracting significant attention and occasionally sparking controversy, such as Trump’s remarks during the 2019 conference. It is unclear if Saban is still involved in the IAC, but he hasn’t shown up to the recent conferences, so chances are he isn’t. Carr will need to try and re-engage leaders such as Saban, if he wants to move the IAC back to center stage.