June Walker, Presidents Conference chair, dies

June Walker, the chairperson of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and former national president of Hadassah, has died.

Walker died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. She was 74 and lived in Rockaway, N.J.

“Leaders of the United States and Israel held her in high regard and respected the person even more than the positions she held,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the Presidents Conference’s executive vice chairman. “They, as we, recognized immediately her integrity, her intelligence and the sincerity of her advocacy. I am personally, as is the conference collectively, devastated by her passing.”

Walker took over last year as chairperson of the Presidents Conference, an umbrella group of some 50 Jewish organizations that aims to forge a communal consensus on matters of foreign policy.

She was only the second woman to hold the position and the first chairperson to die in office. Hoenlein told JTA the Presidents Conference has no established plan of succession.

Before succeeding Harold Tanner at the Presidents Conference, she served four years as the national president of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. A longtime member of the Hadassah national board, she also served as the organization’s treasurer.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we begin to mourn June Walker, a unique leader and a wonderful friend to many,” said Walker’s successor as Hadassah president,Nancy Falchuk. “June once said that Hadassah embodied everything she was interested in: Israel, women’s empowerment, Judaism, education, medicine and Zionism. But June personified values that Hadassah stands for: pride, dedication, and spirit enhanced by her own personal grit.”

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