Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service
As president of the American Jewish World Service, Ruth Messinger, 71, leads one of the major development organizations supporting human rights for marginalized people and on-the-ground programs around the world.
From sending young Jewish adults to third world countries to volunteer to providing grants to 375 grassroots organizations worldwide and famously sounding the alarm to world leaders on genocide in Darfur, Messinger promotes global citizenship among Jews, stands up for justice and demands compassion and real change. She joined AJWS in 1988 following a long career in public service in New York City.
New Yorkers remember Messinger as the first woman to receive the Democratic Party’s nomination for New York City mayor.
She lost the 1997 election to Rudolph Giuliani, who won a second term. Messinger previously served for 12 years on the New York City Council and for eight years as Manhattan borough president. According to the Forward, AJWS had a $2.8 million budget and funded 65 projects and 50 organizations in 20 nations in 1998, when Messinger took over. Now, with a budget of $42m., it funds some 626 projects and 458 organizations in 34 countries.