Morton A. Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of
Mr. Klein, Dr. Goldblatt and Dr. Mazurek stated that, Gary Ratner brings a wide array of skills to this position given his Jewish communal, political, business and entrepreneurial backgrounds. I know that Mr. Ratner will help us and the board bring the ZOA to a new level of effectiveness and growth. He has a keen understanding of the issues relating to the Jewish people,
Mr. Ratner just concluded a nine year stint as the Western Regional Director of the American Jewish Congress, where he rebuilt the region after it had closed in 1999. During his tenure, the region became financially successful and over the years made a significant impact by providing unique programs — working on campuses to counter the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel environment, working with the diverse communities especially in California to build support for Israel by making alliances with moderate Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, various Asian communities, Indo-Americans, and Turkish Americans, and even fighting anti-Semitism in France.
One of his accomplishments was to investigate the use of Federal Title VI funds at the Centers for Middle East Studies at major universities and their outreach programs to K-12 teachers and students. As a result, he helped AJCongress file a petition with the Department of Education to change the criteria for awarding grants under Title VI.
Another area where Mr. Ratner made a significant contribution was in fighting the divestment movement on the part of mainline Protestant Churches. As part of a coalition of groups, Mr. Ratner helped mobilize
Previous to his term at the AJCongress, Mr. Ratner held numerous positions over a 25 year period in the logistics and supply chain management fields, including being the CEO of the largest privately owned trucking and warehousing company in the country. He founded numerous start-up ventures in the personnel and training fields in the
During that period, he had also been a leader in many Jewish organizations both here and in Israel, including being a member of the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University, the board of the Chicago Jewish Federation (including a term as the head of the Chicago JCRC), the Executive Committee of AIPAC, the National Committee for an Effective Congress and was honored as Young Leader of the Year by Israel Bonds.
He volunteered in the Yom Kippur War working to replace soldiers on a base in Palmachim. He lived in
In 1996-7, Mr. Ratner was a consultant to
In 1999, Mr. Ratner was a consultant to Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews to develop Jewish support for the fellowship and their humanitarian projects in
He visited and met with the leaders of Gush Katif and the other communities in
Ratner received his masters degree in International Relations and Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington and Bologna, Italy, (where he became close friends with Wolf Blitzer, now an anchor at CNN); his B.A. from Northwestern University. He also studied at
He has taught courses in 20th century history at the community college level and from 1993-1995 co-hosted the first pro-Israel radio program in
I have accepted this exciting position with the ZOA because I believe its work is the most vital of all the major American Jewish organizations in protecting
Mr. Ratner has three grown children, Uri, a hedge fund manager in San Francisco; Yael, a wife and mother married to a venture capitalist, lives in Chicago and Miami; and Ariel, a recent graduate of Harvards Kennedy School of Government, now works with the Obama Administration; and one granddaughter Gabrielle.