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ADL Names Abe Foxman’s Successor

‘Serial entrepreneur’ Jonathan Greenblatt is a special assistant to Obama

Stephanie Butnick
November 06, 2014
Jonathan Greenblatt. (Flickr)
Jonathan Greenblatt. (Flickr)

The Anti-Defamation League has named its next leader, and it’s a forward-thinking choice for the hundred-year-old organization. They’ve selected Jonathan Greenblatt to succeed longtime national director Abe Foxman when he steps down in July 2015. Greenblatt currently serves as special assistant to President Obama and is director of the White House’s Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.

Greenblatt’s resume is impressive. “Jonathan has been described as a serial social entrepreneur,” reads his White House biography. “Among his accomplishments, Jonathan co-founded Ethos Brands, the business that launched Ethos Water, the premium bottled water that helps children around the world get clean water.” Ethos may sound familiar—it’s the water sold at Starbucks, which acquired the company in 2005.

JTA reports that Greenblatt, a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, interned for the ADL as a college student at Tufts. His wife, Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, with whom he has three children, worked in the ADL’s Los Angeles office for eight years.

Greenblatt’s entrepreneurial and tech-savvy background likely made his candidacy all the more appealing to the 16-member ADL selection committee, which nominated him unanimously. But what’s most interesting about Greenblatt is his White House relationship—one that, surely, the ADL hopes to capitalize on. Being a former special assistant to Obama has to have its perks: access to the President’s ear may be one of the most prized.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.