Jerusalem, Israel: Naomi Chazan, former Israeli Knesset Deputy Speaker and outspoken human rights activist, began her new role as president of the New Israel Fund’s (NIF) board of directors today at the organization’s board meeting in Jerusalem. Chazan served on the NIF Board from 1992-93, resigned upon being elected to the Knesset for the Meretz party, and rejoined the NIF Board in January 2007. She is Professor Emerita of Political Science and African Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she served as Chair of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, and has been a Visiting Professor of Government at Harvard University. Chazan currently serves as Head of the School of Government and Society at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo and spent the academic year 2004-2005 as the Wilhelm Fellow at the Center for International Studies at MIT.
Born in Jerusalem, Naomi Chazan holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A long-time advocate for social justice, Chazan is among the founders of the Israel Women’s Network, has served as vice-president of the International Political Science Association and was a member of the Executive Committee of Parliamentarians for Global Action. She also helped found and is active in a variety of professional, human rights and peace organizations. Chazan succeeds Georgetown University Law School Professor and anti-poverty activist Peter Edelman, who served as NIF President for the past six years.
During her tenure as board president, Chazan intends to take a pro-active, advocacy-based approach towards the Israeli social change agenda. In keeping with her values and accomplishments as a Knesset member, Chazan has a particular interest in issues concerning gender equality, religious pluralism, governmental reform and maintaining the independence of the judiciary.
NIF Chief Executive Officer Larry Garber noted, “Over the years, Naomi Chazan has proven to be a powerful voice on behalf of civil society in Israel. She brings an exceptional passion and a dedication for our issues that will enable NIF to grow in new directions.”
“The entire time I was in the Knesset I was heavily involved with civil society organizations,” Chazan said. “For me, it’s like coming back home. The progress that has been made by NIF and civil society has been phenomenal. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be able to guide this path-breaking organization. There is a lot more to do.”
The New Israel Fund is the leading organization advancing democratic change within Israel. Founded in 1979, NIF has granted over $200 million to more than 800 organizations in Israel dedicated to promoting equality and social justice for all Israelis. Through an integrated strategy of grant-making, technical assistance and coalition-building, NIF nurtures and develops grassroots organizations that have become the leaders of Israeli civil society. NIF has its administrative headquarters in Washington, DC and bases its grant-making and capacity-building operations in Jerusalem.