Hillel International today announced Adam Lehman as the organization’s next President and CEO. Lehman, who has held the interim CEO position since July 2019, previously served as the organization’s chief operating officer for four years. In his new role, Lehman will build on Hillel’s success in fostering Jewish life on 550 campuses across 18 countries, with a focus on increased innovation in student engagement, further investments in talent, and garnering the resources that can fuel Hillel’s growth and success during its next 100 years.
Lehman was a critical player in the efforts to strengthen and reinvent Hillel over the last five years, working alongside his predecessor Eric Fingerhut, who stepped down in June to become CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America. With Lehman’s strategic guidance and leadership, Hillel led the Jewish and nonprofit world through its unprecedented investments in recruiting, retaining and developing talent at local Hillel chapters, enabling campus Hillels to engage more than 141,000 Jewish students at 550 colleges and universities in 2019 alone. Lehman also used his entrepreneurial and tech background to advance the organization’s efforts in applying design thinking, data analytics and customer success models from Silicon Valley to Hillel’s work, and in modernizing Hillel International’s operations.
Under Lehman’s leadership, Hillel’s priority for 2020 will continue to be developing and supporting talent across the Hillel movement that will enable Hillel to further increase its engagement of Jewish students on campus in both number and depth. Hillel will also be doubling down on its innovation agenda to adapt to the changing needs and interests of Generation Z students, and to ensure Hillel’s central role on campus into the future.
“In 2020 and beyond, we will work to engage and inspire even more Jewish students on campus through our uniquely pluralistic and inclusive philosophy and approach. We’ll also further strengthen Hillel’s role as the platform through which Jewish communities on campus live out our Jewish values, pursuing social justice, volunteerism and relationship building initiatives that serve the broader campus community and world,” said Lehman. “At the same time, we’ll be equipping our professionals to address rapidly changing dynamics on campus, including by working with college administrators and other partners to combat anti-Semitism and ensure a safe campus climate in which Jewish students can feel comfortable expressing and deepening their Jewish identities.”
As CEO, Lehman also plans to continue Hillel International’s significant investments in the signature programs that support Hillel’s vision to inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel, such as its fast-growing Jewish Learning Fellowship, Hillel-sponsored Birthright Israel and other immersive Israel experiences and its Israel Fellows partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel. He will also be focused on creating a more powerful movement that connects all Hillel communities in North American and globally, through new and expanded Hillel convenings and digital environments that bring together professional, student and lay leaders from around the world.
Lehman was selected after an exhaustive CEO search, led by co-chairs Tina Price and Bruce Sholk, who interviewed numerous Hillel professionals and stakeholders to gather feedback and learn which attributes were needed in Hillel’s next leader. The diverse 13-member committee – which included Hillel directors and student representation – also went through inherent bias training, facilitated by the Gender Equity in Hiring Project, before reviewing candidates.
Lehman brings experience as both a leader in the Jewish community and an innovative entrepreneur to his role at Hillel. Before joining Hillel, Lehman served as president and COO of the venture-backed software and data analytics company Lotame Solutions; senior vice president and group COO at AOL; founder of early stage investment company Rock Ridge Ventures; president and COO of crowdsourced creative platform GeniusRocket; and as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.
Lehman graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from Dartmouth College and cum laude with a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He was also a Harry S. Truman Scholar. He is a former board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Beth Sholom Congregation and Fair Chance D.C. He has also been active in the Jewish arts scene as a playwright and founding member of the D.C.-based Jewish a cappella group JewKvox, which has performed at the Congressional Hanukkah Party, at Nationals Park and at numerous Jewish and Israel events across the Washington area.