(JNS) The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group with 53 member organizations, announced this week that it is nominating Dianne Lob, a former chairwoman of HIAS, to be the new chair of its executive board. Lob, who has worked as head of global business development for AllianceBernstein, an investment management firm, would succeed Arthur Stark, who served as a past chairman of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. In a press release, the Conference noted that, “If elected, Ms. Lob will be the third woman to Chair the Conference, following Shoshana Cardin (1991-1992) and June Walker (2007-2008).”
The appointment has stirred objections from members and supporters who are uncomfortable with the political positions of HIAS that have clashed repeatedly with the Trump administration over recent U.S. immigration policies. “Ms. Lob was recommended by a splintered Nominating Committee, and her nomination has caused a serious rift in the Conference of Presidents,” said Roberta Goldstein, former national chairwoman of State of Israel Bonds.
Founded in 1881 as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the organization played a vital role throughout the 20th century in providing services for Jewish refugees to settle in the United States and elsewhere. In recent decades, the organization re-branded itself as HIAS and shifted its focus “to protect and assist refugees of all faiths and ethnicities.”
The Conference of Presidents, established in 1955 to provide a unified voice for the American Jewish community, serves as a liaison to the U.S. president and executive branch. Its mission is “to strengthen all aspects of the U.S.-Israel relationship and to protect and enhance the security and dignity of Jews at home and abroad.” A roll-call vote of member organizations to approve Lob’s nomination is scheduled to take place via Zoom on April 28.