Comings and Goings: Samis Foundation; Jewish Agency International Development

The Seattle based Samis Foundation has announced that Connie Kanter will become its new Chief Executive Officer beginning March, 2019.

The Samis Foundation was created in 1994 to reinvest the profits of Samuel Israel’s real estate business to support Jewish education locally, and other program areas in Israel. The Foundation has awarded over $90 million in grants over the last 24 years to Seattle area Jewish day schools, Jewish camps and teen experiences, as well as specific causes in Israel and disaster relief efforts around the world. As both real estate values and the Jewish population of Seattle have grown considerably over the past decade, the Foundation’s role in Seattle’s Jewish community is significant. Kanter will assume this role as Rabbi Rob Toren, the Foundation’s Executive Director, retires after 20 years.

Kanter most recently served as the Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Affairs for Seattle University. She has a wide range of experience in the Jewish community, ranging from serving on numerous boards and committees of synagogues, schools, the Federation, the JCC, the Kline Galland Center (the local Jewish senior care) and Israel-related organizations. Kanter has served as a trustee of the Samis Foundation since 2010, and is thus intimately aware of the Foundation’s work and strategic opportunities to advance the Foundation’s mission. Kanter is a graduate of The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from the Booth School of the University of Chicago.


Gail Reiss has been named President and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development (JAID). JAID was created in 2010 to serve as the fundraising arm of the Jewish Agency in North America.

Gail joins the Jewish Agency from American Friends of Tel Aviv University, where she served as President and CEO. She previously served as Vice President of the UJA-Federation of New York’s Philanthropic Leadership Group and held several senior positions with UJC-JFNA which have included partnerships with the Jewish Agency, including the planning of the National Campaign Chair and Directors’ mission, and all major gift missions.

Gail will commence her new position on January 22, 2019.