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White House Appoints New Jewish Liaison

Matt Nosanchuk played key role on administration’s DOMA litigation team

Stephanie Butnick
July 10, 2013
The White House in Washington, DC, on June 14, 2013.( JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
The White House in Washington, DC, on June 14, 2013.( JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Meet Matt Nosanchuk, your new White House Jewish liaison (technically, he’s the new associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement for Jewish Outreach). Nosanchuk replaces Zach Kelly, who took over the position on an interim basis when Jarrod Bernstein stepped down in January.

At the time, Allison Hoffman offered a helpful description of what the position actually entails:

The liaison role is not, by itself, especially well-compensated, and as a result traditionally has fallen to either mid-level staff or people with other jobs to do. (George W. Bush had seven liaisons in his eight years as president.) But in Obama’s first term, the president was able to rely on a deep in-house bench of Jewishly connected senior advisers to help manage the president’s sometimes fraught relationship with the organized Jewish community: Rahm Emanuel, Dennis Ross, Jack Lew. All of those people have now moved on. At the same time, Obama seems determined in his second term to bypass official channels and take his policy fights directly to the public.

Hoffman had her own suggestion for the spot, a candidate Sorkin fans could get on board with: Josh Malina. While the White House Office of Personnel Management may not have gotten her memo, Nosanchuk does bring his own impressive qualifications to the position.

Nosanchuk, who received both his undergraduate and law degree from Stanford University (senior note editor of the Stanford Law Review, not too shabby), joined the Obama administration in 2009 as a senior counselor in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, where, according to JTA, he “helped shape the Obama administration’s response to a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.” He was awarded the inaugural Stonewall Award by the American Bar Association in February.

He’s also a longtime member of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland, which seems as good a place for liaising as any.

Here’s Nosanchuk humbly discussing the Stonewall Award and his career of civil rights work.

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