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Galperin to leave D.C. federation to take senior spot with JAFI

Misha Galperin has notified the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington that he will leave his post as the federation’s CEO this summer to take a position at the Jewish Agency for Israel.

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Galperin will take over the position that Maxyne Finkelstein is set to abandon when she officially steps down as the CEO of the Jewish Agency for Israel, North America this summer.

The position, however, will be broadened for Galperin, who is a close ally of the Jewish Agency’s chairman, Natan Sharansky, according to the source. And pending approval of the Jewish Agency’s board later this month, Galperin’s title will likely be “director of global operations.”

“A JAFI committee will be presenting for approval its recommendations regarding structural changes, including this new position, when the JAFI Executive meets in Jerusalem on February 22, 2010,” the president of the Washington federation, Susie Gelman, wrote in an e-mail to her board of directors announcing Galperin’s resignation Monday. 

The move appears to be a win-win for Galperin and the Jewish Agency. Galperin, who helped Sharansky secure the top spot at the Jewish Agency, is well respected in federation circles and his hiring would help position the agency in its fight to maintain its share of the $150 million that the federation system is expected to split between JAFI and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

For the Soviet-born Galperin, a major player in the philanthropic landscape budding from Russian-speaking Jews, it appears to be a promotion.

“It brings him to the next level, and a much bigger playing field,” the source said. “It brings him front and center on international issues and theoretically he has more impact.”

Here is the e-mail from Gelman:

Dear Fellow Board Member,

I am writing to share some important information with you.  Misha Galperin, our CEO and Executive Vice President, has notified Federation’s Executive Committee of his intention to leave Federation in the summer of 2010 to assume what will be a newly-created senior position at the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).

A JAFI committee will be presenting for approval its recommendations regarding structural changes, including this new position, when the JAFI Executive meets in Jerusalem on February 22, 2010.

As you know, Misha has been a driving force behind the continued growth and development of our Federation and our community.  We are deeply indebted to him for his hard work, for his visionary leadership, and for Federation’s many successes during his tenure.   While it would be premature to wish him well, since the new position has not yet been approved, I have every reason to expect that Misha will bring to the Jewish Agency all of the energy, creativity and passion that have been of such benefit to our community during Misha’s tenure.

In the coming days, I will be conferring with our Executive Committee to determine how best to proceed with the anticipated search for a new CEO.  Misha has expressed his willingness to assist us during this transitional period, but I hope to conclude the process by the end of his current contract on June 30, 2010.  

I will keep you apprised as to further developments.  In the meantime, should you have any thoughts about the process or suggestions as to how we should proceed, please let me know.

With best wishes,

Susie Gelman

President, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

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