The Team Behind JPPI - Dr. John Ruskay

Dr. John Ruskay

Institute Position Senior Fellow

Previous Experience:

Dr. Ruskay served for four decades as part of the professional leadership of the North American Jewish Community. In June 2015, Dr. Ruskay finished his nearly 16-year tenure as Executive Vice President & CEO at UJA-Federation of New York, the largest community-based philanthropy in the world. He has called for Federations to become powerful resources to create “inspired and caring communities,” which can engage Jews on the basis of providing meaning, purpose, and community. In former position, Dr. Ruskay has created widely-recognized community initiatives to actualize this vision. Dr. Ruskay joined UJA-Federation’s professional staff in 1993 and served in several positions prior to being appointed CEO in 1999.

As an undergraduate, Dr. Ruskay was active in both the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 1968, Dr. Ruskay spent a year at the JTS Rabbinical School/Mechina Program. In 1969, Dr. Ruskay entered Columbia University Graduate Faculties, where he earned his M.A. (1972) and Ph.D. (1977) in Political Science, specializing in Middle East Politics.

Dr. Ruskay has held senior professional positions in a diverse range of American Jewish institutions:

• Education Director; Executive Director, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ). 1975-1977
• Executive Director, the National Jewish Resource Center (predecessor to CLAL.) 1977-1978
• Executive Director, Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation. 1978-1980
• Education Director, the 92nd Street YM-YWHA. 1980-1985
• Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs, the Jewish Theological Seminary. 1985-1993
• Group Vice President, Program Services; Chief Operating Officer; and Executive Vice President & CEO, UJA-Federation of New York. 1993-present

In each of these institutions -- a synagogue, major denomination, JTS, and at UJA-Federation -- Dr. Ruskay has worked to strengthen the capacity of each to create inspired Jewish life in the open society.

In addition to the professional positions, Dr. Ruskay has served as a consultant to several of the major American Jewish foundations, including the Advisory Board and Fellowship Selection Committee for the Wexner Foundation (1986-1998); and as Senior Consultant to The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (1985-1996).

Dr. Ruskay has authored numerous articles on critical issues facing the Jewish community. The list of articles is attached. He also chaired the Publications Committee of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service (2000-2004) and the Professional Advisory Committee of the Hornstein School of Jewish Communal Service (2001-2007.)

Dr. Ruskay is a recipient of the Bernard Reisman Award for Professional Excellence from Brandeis University's Hornstein Program (1996); and the Mandelkorn Distinguished Service Award from the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America (2003.)

Dr. Ruskay has served in a range of volunteer roles including: Founding Member of the New York Havura (1969-1974); Founding Board Member of Breira (1972-77); Founding Member of Board of Directors, Abraham Joshua Heschel School (1978-1984; 1988-1996); and Treasurer of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (1992-present.)

Read latest articles of Dr. John Ruskay