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Wayne Firestone stepping down as CEO of Hillel

Just received word that Wayne Firestone is letting board leaders and staff know that he’ll be stepping down as CEO of Hillel next June.

Click here to read a recent article by Neil Rubin on Hillel’s evolving strategy for the future. The short version — previous Hillel CEO (and current president of Yeshiva University) Richard Joel focused on improving the quality of progamming at Hillel houses; Firestone has increasingly focused his attention on figuring out how to bring Jewish programming to students who never set foot in a Hillel house. [UPDATE: Just a reminder... Avram Infeld served in between the two, helping guide the organization through a challenging transitional period.]

Here’s the press release: [[READMORE]]

Wayne Firestone to Step Down As President and CEO of Hillel
Led Dynamic Innovation and Growing Student Engagement

For Immediate Release

September 21, 2012, Washington, D.C. – Wayne L. Firestone announced today he will step down as President and CEO of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.

Firestone, who has worked for Hillel for more than a decade, with seven years as the chief executive, will stay in place through June 2013 in order to ensure a smooth transition with his successor. 

In a message to Hillel lay leaders and staff, Firestone wrote, “The organization is poised to grow to a new scale, in order to accommodate the rapid growth in student participation in the United States that we have driven over the past several years (from 33 percent to 45 percent student involvement from 2005 to 2012, according to a formal study).  This effort will require strong senior leadership and new financial resources.”

He added that “whether as a student activist, private citizen of Israel, or communal leader, I have felt a calling to write about, give voice to, and act upon the great rights and responsibilities attached to modern Jewish life.  As I contemplate my next steps, I hope to write my next chapter in the global Jewish people’s narrative as well.”

Thomas A. Blumberg, Chair of Hillel’s International Board of Directors, stressed that Firestone’s legacy as President will be that “Hillel’s “brand” and relevance to Jewish university students is remarkably stronger today than when he took over the leadership. By every measure, the innovative peer-to-peer approach he championed has resulted in higher student involvement with Hillel than we have seen in decades, and in many more students seeking to deepen their Jewish identity and skills. For growing numbers of Jewish students, Hillel is no longer their parents’ movement but one they relate to and call their own.”

“If there was ever a moment when a change of leadership would be least disruptive,” Blumberg also said, “it is at this important turning point in the life of the overall Hillel movement. Wayne led Hillel during a period of extraordinary innovation. Now that much of that innovation has borne fruit, we will – following the roadmap in our recently passed five-year strategic plan – move to a phase of bringing the new engagement approaches to more campuses and students and deepening them where they have already succeeded.”

The philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman, a leading supporter of Hillel, praised Firestone for “taking a strong organization to a new and higher level. The momentum Wayne set in motion for Hillel will drive its growth for a long time to come and revitalize the ranks of the American and global Jewish communities for generations. He has led nothing less than a historic transformation.”

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