Rick Hirschhaut to apply broad experience in civil rights and human relations as chief of AJC’s largest U.S. field office

The American Jewish Committee (AJC), the leading global Jewish advocacy organization, today announced the appointment of Richard S. Hirschhaut as its Los Angeles Director. Hirschhaut is a civil rights advocate and Jewish communal leader who has served in senior executive roles with the Anti-Defamation League, Illinois Holocaust Museum, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and American Friends of Rambam Medical Center.

In announcing Hirschhaut’s appointment, Scott Edelman, AJC Los Angeles Board President and a partner at the global law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Rick as our Los Angeles Director. He is a transformational leader who has served both the Jewish community and the broader American public with passion and integrity for over three decades. In these challenging times, the mission of AJC Los Angeles to build strong alliances among diverse ethnic and religious groups to advance our common concerns is more important than ever. We look forward to Rick guiding these initiatives and helping to grow our family of supporters across Southern California.”

David Harris, AJC CEO, added: “We are excited that Rick Hirschhaut will be bringing his depth of experience and passion for the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel to AJC. A strong and vibrant AJC Los Angeles is crucial to advancing our global mission and we look forward to Rick’s leadership in achieving these important objectives.”

Hirschhaut has worked to advance human rights and democratic values and promote the security and well-being of Jews and other vulnerable communities in the United States, Israel and around the world. His work with NGOs has included efforts to advance humanitarian medical aid and peaceful coexistence in Israel and neighboring countries. He has led fact-finding missions to Ukraine, Ethiopia, Cuba and Israel, and spearheaded international efforts to mark the 20th Commemoration of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Hirschhaut led the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, as its founding executive director from 2004-14. The museum opened in 2009 to international acclaim and the participation of President Bill Clinton, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, and an audience of 13,000. Under his leadership, the museum hosted heads of state and other dignitaries. In 2013 Hirschhaut received an Emmy Award as Co-Executive Producer of the nationally-broadcast documentary, Skokie: Invaded but Not Conquered.

Hirschhaut also served with the Anti-Defamation League for 21 years, including a decade as Midwest regional director in Chicago. His work included building bridges between the African American and Jewish communities, and close cooperation with law enforcement on issues of anti-Semitism and extremism.

Said Hirschhaut of his new role, “I am humbled by the trust that has been placed in me to lead AJC Los Angeles. We are reminded of the urgency of AJC’s mission every day. With dedicated leadership and talented professional staff, we will confront the incivility of our times by standing with communities facing the sting of intolerance. Our focus will be upon the issues that matter most -- combating rising anti-Semitism and extremism, defending Israel’s place in the world, and safeguarding the rights and freedoms of all people. I am excited for the opportunity to build greater support for AJC’s informed advocacy.”

Hirschhaut and his wife Susan, a native of Los Angeles, are the proud parents of two adult children. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Judaic studies from Tulane University, and studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He grew up in upstate New York and Knoxville, Tenn.

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