Geller-Gallagher Leadership Institute at the Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management Established at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles

Monday, May 23, 2016

From right: Rabbi Aaron Panken, HUC-JIR President; Lowell Gallagher; Jay H. Geller; and Erik Ludwig, Director, Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management

Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) has announced the establishment of the Geller-Gallagher Leadership Institute (GGLI) with a $1 million gift from Jay H. Geller, member of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors, and his husband, Lowell Gallagher, Professor of English at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The GGLI at the HUC-JIR Zelikow School of Jewish Nonprofit Management (Zelikow School) will develop and promote professional and lay leadership in the Jewish nonprofit sector through conferences, seminars, workshops, and speakers’ series.  This gift was announced at the Zelikow School Advisory Council Honors reception on May 15 in Los Angeles honoring graduates of the school receiving their honorary doctorates for 25 years of service to the Jewish nonprofit community.

Rabbi Panken stated, “Jay Geller and Lowell Gallagher are investing in the education of highly educated and entrepreneurial Jewish nonprofit professionals and lay leaders who will build and transform the organizations, institutions, agencies, and communities that ensure a vital Jewish future and a better world. Their vision and generosity is a source of inspiration, as we work together to promote the values of pluralism, inclusivity, and social responsibility.” 

Jay Geller said, “Creating effective and successful nonprofit leaders, both professionals and lay, is not something that happens automatically.  Some people are naturals when it comes to leadership, others require skillful training.  Through the programs of the GGLI at the Zelikow School, we hope to create lay and professional leaders who understand what it means to be a leader, who are meaningfully mentored so as to be effective in their leadership roles, and who can work together effectively in the nonprofit institutional setting.  At the same time, the GGLI will help train and mentor students in the Zelikow School to become effective nonprofit leaders and work effectively with lay leaders.  Under the capable direction of Erik Ludwig, the Director of the Zelikow School, and Dr. Joshua Holo, Dean of the Jack H. Skirball Campus in Los Angeles, we are confident that the GGLI will become an important address for developing successful professional and lay leaders in the Jewish nonprofit world.”

The Zelikow School is the premier graduate school preparing nonprofit professionals today for leadership careers in the Jewish community.  Established in 1968 as the first program of its kind, the Zelikow School (formerly the School of Jewish Communal Service) is part of the Jack H. Skirball Campus of HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, which brings together future rabbinical, Jewish education, and nonprofit management students to learn from each other and develop their professional networks. 

Erik Ludwig, Director of the Zelikow School, added, “We are grateful to Jay Geller and Lowell Gallagher for their forethought in understanding that while the classroom serves an important function in developing our students at the Zelikow School, the GGLI will serve an equally important public function, reaching beyond the walls of the classroom and boundaries of the campus, in deepening the knowledge and providing thought leadership to the greater Jewish community.”

Dr. Joshua Holo stated, “We are so honored by this remarkable gift, and even more than that, eager to roll up our sleeves and implement a vision of leadership programming that will even further distinguish the Zelikow School as the premier graduate school in the field.”

Jay H. Geller is an attorney in Los Angeles specializing in intellectual property and government regulatory matters.  A  member of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors since 2007 and of the HUC-JIR Western Region Board of Overseers since 1997, he is Chair of the Zelikow School Advisory Council and mentor to dozens of students on the HUC-JIR campuses. He has served as Chair of the HUC-JIR Board of Governors Communications Committee and a member of the Executive Committee, and currently serves as a member of the Academic and Faculty Affairs, Governance, and Israel Committees. He is an internationally recognized leader of the Reform Movement, having served on the Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees as Vice Chair, member of the Executive Committee, Chair of the URJ Biennial in 2007, President of the Pacific Southwest Council, and member of the Reform Judaism magazine Editorial Advisory Board.  He is a member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism North American Board and its Yad b’Yad outreach committee to Latin American Progressive congregations and regularly participates in World Union conferences presenting on creating effective lay-professional relationships.  Geller received his J.D. degree from the University of Denver (1970), M.B.A. from Pepperdine University (1984), and B.A. from the University of Colorado (1968).

Professor Lowell Gallagher, Ph.D., is the incoming Chair of the Department of English at UCLA. His scholarly expertise includes Renaissance studies with an emphasis on literary and political cultures of English Catholicism, Spenser studies, and critical religious studies. His publications include Medusa’s Gaze: Casuistry and Conscience in the Renaissance (Stanford UP) and the forthcoming Sodomscapes: Hospitality in the Flesh (Fordham UP), as well as several edited volumes on early modern religious and literary strategies for accommodating the idea of the foreigner.  In 2008-09, he organized a year-long interdepartmental faculty study group on “Thinking Religion in a Post-Secular Age,” sponsored by a Mellon Foundation Grant at UCLA. He is a current member of the Faculty Advisory Committee in the Center for the Study of Religion at UCLA.

The Zelikow School offers an array of program options. The two-year program leading to a Masters in Jewish Nonprofit Management includes courses in Jewish Studies, Jewish Communal Dynamics, and Nonprofit Management; two years of supervised fieldwork internships; a capstone project, and a two-week Israel Seminar.  Also offered are joint degrees with the Rhea Hirsch School of Education and the Rabbinical School, and a graduate certificate, as well as dual degrees with USC’s nationally ranked graduate schools: Master of Public Administration (MPA) in the School of Planning, Policy and Development; Master of Social Work (MSW) in the School of Social Work; Master of Business Administration (MBA) in the Marshall School of Business; and Master of Communication Management (MCMGT) in the Annenberg School of Communication. The Zelikow School’s alumni serve in senior positions in major international, national, regional, and local nonprofit organizations, agencies, and institutions worldwide. 

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Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.