JDC announces Ariel Zwang as new CEO

The announcement comes following months of internal strife and factional tension in the JDC regarding the search for a new CEO.

The JDC offices under construction in Jerusalem in August, 2020 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The JDC offices under construction in Jerusalem in August, 2020
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) announced on Sunday the selection of Ariel Zwang as the organization's newest CEO.
Zwang, who will become the JDC's first ever female CEO, is a noted Jewish leader, and has experience serving as the head of leading American social service agency Safe Horizon for 12 years, as well as previously serving as executive director of New York City's largest volunteer organization New York Cares for seven years. This is in addition to a 25-year career in management, fundraising and relationship cultivation, which also saw a tenure as a White House Fellow in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She also currently serves as vice president of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan, and has held positions in the UJA-Federation of New York, the Jewish Coalition for Service and the New York Committee for Harvard Hillel.
She was unanimously nominated for the position by the JDC's Search and Executive Committees, with the board of directors approving her, and is set to succeed current interim CEO Darrell Friedman on January 2, 2021.
“Today’s work – building the future of the global Jewish people, support for those in economic distress, including the elderly and Holocaust survivors, and working with Israel to provide opportunity for its vulnerable – is profoundly meaningful to me,” Zwang said in a statement.
“JDC performs these miracles every day, and I am eager to work with its Board, staff, funders and partners to continue this work and position JDC for another 100 years of strength and impact.”
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Ariel Zwang as JDC’s next CEO. We know her dynamic skill-set and lifelong dedication to improving lives and building Jewish life, at the heart of JDC’s mission, will be critical to her success in leading an organization that’s played a key role in the history of the Jewish people for more than a century,” Friedman and JDC president Mark Sisisky said in a joint statement.
“Our world faces unprecedented challenges and JDC’s support of Jews, Jewish communities, Israelis, and others in dire need is more critical than ever before. Ariel’s outstanding talents and values-driven leadership will strengthen our ability to achieve this goal and move us forward into another century of service as the 9-1-1 of the Jewish world.”
Other notable Jewish leaders released statements welcoming Zwang's appointment.
"With her impressive record of strong professional leadership of major human service agencies in New York, her deep engagement in Jewish life, and impeccable people skills, Ariel Zwang is exceedingly well positioned to lead JDC as it navigates the challenges and opportunities ahead. A fabulous choice!" said John Ruskay, the veteran Jewish leader and former CEO of UJA-Federation of New York.
"Ariel is a rare leader whose integrity, dedication to mission, and sense of purpose will benefit JDC as it continues its impactful work around the world. As someone who leads an international Jewish organization, I know she offers that combination of strength, heart, vision, and insightfulness needed to guide JDC, unify people behind its work, and undoubtedly propel it to new heights," said Hadassah CEO Dr. Janice Weinman.
The announcement comes following months of internal strife and factional tension in the JDC regarding the search for a new CEO, with some alleging that Sisisky and the executive board allegedly interfered in the selection process. Indeed, the process was marred by delays, a lack of transparency and a change in the selection process, as well as complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.