Person

Jonathan Greenblatt

Jonathan Greenblatt speaking at an event in Phoenix, Arizona. (link) by Gage Skidmore is licensed CC BY-SA 3.0 (link)
Nationality:

American

Occupation:

CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League

Special Assistant to the President, Barack Obama Administration

Director, White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation

Political Party:

Democratic Party

Jonathan Greenblatt is a Democratic political operative, corporate executive, and the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. He worked for Bill Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign[1] and worked in the Obama White House as the director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. [2]

Politically conservative Jewish commentators have criticized Greenblatt for appearing to place his personal liberal politics ahead of the ADL’s historical mission to oppose anti-Semitism. [3][4]

Background

Jonathan Greenblatt was born on November 21, 1970 in Trumbull, Connecticut. He grew up in a largely family aligned with the Conservative denomination of Judaism. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University (where he interned for an Anti-Defamation League regional office[5]) and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University.

He is married to Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, an Iranian-Jewish refugee who founded the non-profit Alliance for Rights of All Minorities (ARAM), which aims to prevent discrimination in various public and social spheres in the United States. He currently has three children. [6]

Party-Political Activities

Greenblatt is a partisan Democrat, having served the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Clinton Campaign and Administration

After graduating from Tufts University, Greenblatt went to Little Rock, Arkansas to work on the successful 1992 Bill Clinton presidential campaign. [7] After Clinton’s election, Greenblatt went on to work in the Department of Commerce focusing on economic policy. [8]

Obama Administration

Greenblatt worked as a special assistant to the President in the Obama White House. In this role, Greenblatt advised President Obama on the day-today on various social and economic policy related discussions. Greenblatt also served as the Director of the Office of Social Innovation in the Obama White House; the Office existed to promote the left-of-center not-for-profit advocacy sector. [9]

Anti-Defamation League (ADL)

Jonathan Greenblatt works as the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish non-governmental organization founded in 1913 based in the United States. He took the position in July 2015, succeeding ADL’s longtime leader Abraham Foxman. [10]

In early 2020, in response to a series of violent attacks against Orthodox Jews in New York and New Jersey, Greenblatt and the ADL led a Rally Against Anti-Semitism in New York City. His remarks included a focus on solidarity against anti-Semitic terror and the work the Anti-Defamation League has been doing for some time with regard to “the surge in anti-Semitic violence in New York and across the country in recent years.” [11]

Criticism

As national director and CEO of the ADL, Greenblatt “has modernized the organization while refocusing it on the dual mission it has had since its founding in 1913: to fight the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.” [12] The “modernization” has proved controversial with politically conservative members of the Jewish community, some of whom have accused Greenblatt of putting his personal progressive politics before unity against anti-Semitism.

In the politically conservative and historically Jewish journal Commentary in 2018, Seth Mandel wrote:[13]

Greenblatt took three hallmarks of Team Obama [a reference to former President Barack Obama’s political operation] with him when he left: a belief that liberalism and modern morality were synonymous; an obsession with [then-Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu; and a rivalrous antagonism toward anyone to his right who called out anti-Semitism.

Mandel further alleged that while the Greenblatt-led ADL “will rap a Democrat on the knuckles and claim partisan evenhandedness,” Greenblatt himself “sees right-wing bigotry as a crucial element of conservative ideology, while viewing any such transgressions on the left as isolated anomalies.” [14]

Business Ventures

Ethos Water

Greenblatt is the co-founder and creator of Ethos Water with his business school roommate Peter Thum. The company was purchased by Starbucks for $8 million and Greenblatt went on to serve as Starbucks’ vice president of Global Consumer Products. He then went on to get on the board of directors of the Starbucks foundation in which he aimed at strategizing around Ethos Water, its branding, and its investment strategy. [15] Ethos also provides clean drinking water to poor communities in Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Honduras, India, and Kenya. [16]

GOOD Worldwide

Jonathan Greenblatt worked as the CEO of GOOD Worldwide, a media concern whose products include GOOD Magazine and the website GOOD.is. According to profiles on Greenblatt, he “led GOOD’s transition from a publishing company to a diversified media company. Its products include the website GOOD.is and GOOD Magazine.” [17]

Other Ventures

Jonathan Greenblatt founded the Impact Economy Initiative with the Aspen Institute). The initiative aimed to start a broader conversation surrounding “impact investing”; when Greenblatt was working in the Obama administration, the Impact Economy Initiative co-convened a summit at the White House. [18] In 2006, the Institute had named Greenblatt a Henry Crown Fellow. [19]

He also had a few teaching positions. Between the years of 2006 and 2011, Greenblatt taught social entrepreneurship at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Greenblatt was also a fellow in 2015 at the Wharton School of Management.

Moreover, ““Jonathan has served on numerous startup and non-profit boards, including the African Leadership Foundation, Kevita, KaBOOM!, and Water.org. [20]

References

  1. Lippman, Daniel. “BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.” POLITICO, November 21, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/21/birthday-of-the-day-jonathan-greenblatt-national-director-and-ceo-of-the-anti-defamation-league-254563. ^
  2. “ADL Names Jonathan Greenblatt as Abe Foxman’s Successor – Tablet Magazine”. Tabletmag.com. 2014-11-06. Retrieved 2016-12-11. https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/186878/adl-names-abe-foxmans-successor. ^
  3. Mandel, Seth. “The Shame of the Anti-Defamation League.” Commentary, November 1, 2018. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/the-shame-of-the-anti-defamation-league/. ^
  4. Leibovitz, Liel. “Is Brett Kavanaugh Bad for the Jews?” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, July 23, 2018. https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-brett-kavanaugh-bad-for-the-jews-1532387026. ^
  5. “Jonathan Greenblatt.” Anti-Defamation League, https://www.adl.org/who-we-are/leadership/staff/jonathan-greenblatt. ^
  6. LinkedIn, “Jonathan Greenblatt”, Accessed january 6, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathangreenblatt/. ^
  7. Lippman, Daniel. “BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.” POLITICO, November 21, 2017. ^
  8. JTA. “White House Aide Jonathan Greenblatt to Succeed Abraham Foxman as ADL Director.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com, November 7, 2014. https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/White-House-aide-Jonathan-Greenblatt-to-succeed-Abe-Foxman-as-ADL-director-381093. ^
  9. “The President’s Social Innovation Agenda | About”. The White House. Accessed January 8, 2019. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/administration/eop/sicp/about. ^
  10. JTA. “White House Aide Jonathan Greenblatt to Succeed Abraham Foxman as ADL Director.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com, November 7, 2014. https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/White-House-aide-Jonathan-Greenblatt-to-succeed-Abe-Foxman-as-ADL-director-381093. ^
  11. “Jonathan Greenblatt Remarks to the Solidarity Rally Against Anti-Semitism in New York City.” Anti-Defamation League, 5 Jan. 2020, https://www.adl.org/news/jonathan-greenblatt-remarks-to-the-solidarity-rally-against-anti-semitism-in-new-york-city. ^
  12. “Jonathan Greenblatt.” Anti-Defamation League, https://www.adl.org/who-we-are/leadership/staff/jonathan-greenblatt. ^
  13. Mandel, Seth. “The Shame of the Anti-Defamation League.” Commentary, November 1, 2018. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/the-shame-of-the-anti-defamation-league/. ^
  14. Mandel, Seth. “The Shame of the Anti-Defamation League.” Commentary, November 1, 2018. https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/the-shame-of-the-anti-defamation-league/. ^
  15. Rob Walker (2006-02-26). “Big Gulp”. The New York Times. Accessed January 8, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/26/magazine/big-gulp.html. ^
  16. “Profile: Jonathan Greenblatt – Feature – Tufts University”. tufts.edu. Archived from the original on 2014-01-23. Accessed January 8, 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20140123223021/http://www.tufts.edu/home/feature/?p=greenblatt. ^
  17. “Jonathan Greenblatt — The Business of Doing Good”. On Being. https://onbeing.org/program/business-doing-good/187. ^
  18. “People : Jonathan Greenblatt”. PopTech.org. https://poptech.org/people/jonathan_greenblatt. ^
  19. “Jonathan Greenblatt.” Anti-Defamation League, https://www.adl.org/who-we-are/leadership/staff/jonathan-greenblatt. ^
  20.  “Jonathan Greenblatt.” Anti-Defamation League, https://www.adl.org/who-we-are/leadership/staff/jonathan-greenblatt. ^

Connected Organizations

  1. Anti-Defamation League (ADL) (Non-profit)
    CEO and National Director
  See an error? Let us know!