New HIAS Foundation Will Strengthen Growing Organization’s Mission

SILVER SPRING, Md. — HIAS, the Jewish humanitarian organization that provides critical services to refugees, asylum seekers, and other forcibly displaced people around the world, has announced the launch of the HIAS Foundation, which will create a permanent endowment enabling donors to make investments to support HIAS’ current and future work.

“At a time when record numbers of people around the world are facing displacement — an estimated 117.2 million at the end of 2023, according to the United Nations — it’s more critical than ever that HIAS remain strong, well-resourced, and ready,” said HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield. “We have risen to this challenge in recent years by increasing the reach of our programs and emergency response, and we have experienced significant financial growth as well: HIAS was a $30 million organization working in 10 countries in 2017, and now it’s a $200 million NGO in more than 20 countries. We expect growth to continue in the coming years. Given this dramatic expansion, HIAS needs the support of a permanent endowment that we haven’t enjoyed in the past.”

The inaugural Executive Director of the HIAS Foundation is Jonathan Boiskin, who comes to his current position after a 30-year career in leadership and management roles focused on helping people translate their passions into philanthropy.

“As we build an endowment through lifetime and testamentary planned gifts, bequests and trusts, the HIAS Foundation is grateful to our current donors for standing with us and with the displaced people we serve,” Boiskin said. “Funders are eager to partner with HIAS because they can see the organization’s impact and increasing global reach. While donations to HIAS have historically been put to immediate use to support the organization’s programs, gifts made to the new HIAS Foundation will be invested to support the strategic plan for the future, so that our shared mission can continue for generations.”

The HIAS Foundation, officially formed as a 501(c)(3) public charity in the State of New York in October of 2021, is a separate non-profit from the HIAS organization. The HIAS Board of Directors made the decision to invest in the establishment of a separate charity to manage its reserves and permanent endowment, so that the organization would have a mechanism to fund its strategic plan and strengthen the organization for the future.

Currently, HIAS’ main sources of revenue to support its mission are grants from the U.S. government, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and allied agencies; contributions from individuals and foundations; a transformational gift from MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett; and funds released from board-designated endowments. With the establishment of the HIAS Foundation, income from its endowments will provide additional long-term support for HIAS’ programs, allowing the organization to meet its strategic goals of deepening the impact of its core programming and emergency response.

The new HIAS Foundation Legacy Society is made up of hundreds of individuals who have notified HIAS or the HIAS Foundation of a gift in their estate. The new Foundation will partner with individuals, who through their estate plans or through a generous lifetime commitment, will provide funding to support vital services for refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced people around the world.

Jonathan Boiskin directs the HIAS Foundation with a Board of Directors that includes:

  • Lee Gordon, Board Chair
  • Judith Friedman, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Harley Ungar
  • Neil Moss
  • René Lerer, M.D.

As Executive Director, Boiskin is responsible for investment of all funds under the governance and guidelines of the Board of Directors. A professional investment consultant will advise both the Executive Director and the Board.


Executive Director — Jonathan Boiskin

During his 30-year career prior to heading the HIAS Foundation, Jonathan Boiskin’s leadership and management roles focused on helping people translate their passions into philanthropy. Most recently, he served as Executive Director of Friends of Israel Sci-Tech Schools. Prior to that, Jonathan raised hundreds of millions of dollars for organizations including Jewish Federations, Drexel University, Rutgers University, NYU Langone Medical Center, Birthright Israel Foundation, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Jonathan holds a masters in Jewish Communal Service with a concentration in fundraising from Brandeis University and a bachelor’s in history, Hebrew, and Jewish Civilization from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Board of Directors

Chair — Lee Gordon

Lee Gordon, Chair, previously served on the HIAS Board of Directors for three consecutive terms. The Senior Managing Director and Chairman of Mesirow Wealth Management, Lee studied at the London School of Economics and holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Illinois. He is a past president of the Jewish Council for Youth Services. Twenty-five years ago, Lee founded Chicago Scholars, which has grown into one of the largest scholarship and mentoring programs for under-resourced students in the country.

Secretary-Treasurer — Judith Friedman

Judith Friedman, Secretary-Treasurer, has served on the Board of Directors of HIAS since 2015 and is currently Chair of the Governance Committee. Before her retirement in April 2023, she was a career public servant, having spent 50 years with the United States Department of Justice, including as counsel to the 93 presidentially appointed U.S. Attorneys. Judi holds a B.A. in sociology and psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.S. in Administration of Justice and J.D. from American University. In addition to her work with HIAS and the HIAS Foundation, Judi is active in the American Bar Association and B’nai B’rith International.

Board Members

René Lerer, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Longevity Health Plan, has more than 30 years of experience managing national health care organizations. Most recently, he was President of GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation, a $16 billion not-for-profit health solutions company. Dr. Lerer holds a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology from Oberlin College and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is the child of Holocaust survivors whose family was brought to the United States by HIAS when he was less than a year old.

Neil Moss was a board member of HIAS from 2008-2018. A past chair of the Board of Directors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, he has chaired two Hillel Presidential Search committees in addition to its $200 million Campaign for Jewish Renaissance. Neil is also a registered investment advisor and Chairman of Capital Investors Advisory Corporation, a wealth management firm he founded in 1971. He earned a B.S. in Engineering from Case Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Neil’s parents were assisted by HIAS in the mid-1930s when they fled to the United States.

Harley Elizabeth Ungar has served on the HIAS board of directors since 2018 and is currently Chair of the Programs Committee. After receiving a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, Harley worked in various private sector and non-profit education settings. She spent the past decade as a classroom teacher in charter and private schools, most recently as a middle school social studies teacher at a K-8 Jewish day school. Harley is honored to have participated in the United States’ flagship “Welcome Circle” initiative, in which she helped resettle an Afghan family with HIAS’ guidance.


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