UJC head to step down

The president and CEO of the United Jewish Communities will step down when his contract expires next year.

Howard Rieger has served in the top professional post at the umbrella organization for the North American Jewish federation system since 2004. He had spent more than two decades as the president of the United Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Rieger’s contract expires in August 2009, and he told the UJC’s worldwide professional staff in a meeting and conference call Wednesday morning that he will not seek renewal.

“When I made the same announcement in Pittsburgh during the summer of 2003, I knew that we were positioned for someone to succeed me and bring the United Jewish Federation to the next level of accomplishment,” Rieger told the staff meeting, according to the UJC Web site, which announced his decision Wednesday afternoon. “Little did I know then that, during the fall of 2004, I would assume the top professional position at UJC. Once again, I think that the organization that I am charged with directing is ready to build on our accomplishments to date.”

Rieger’s term at UJC has been one of tumult and tough decisions as the organization has been under intense pressure from its federations to reduce their dues. The result was several rounds of budget cuts and layoffs.

Rieger also has overseen an overhaul of the organization’s structure and strategic direction, as well as several highly successful emergency campaigns for Israel and natural disasters that have raised hundreds of millions of dollars.

Though he has his detractors within the federation system, Rieger is not being forced out, according to a JTA source.

“Rieger feels he has made significant changes over a tough time and he wants to leave the organization in good shape for his successor, and wants to spend the next year doing even more – and possibly being even tougher,” said the source.

A search for a replacement will begin immediately.

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