HIAS Board Welcomes New Members and Officers
Jun 26, 2023
SILVER SPRING, Md. — HIAS, the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides critical support to refugees, asylum seekers and other forcibly displaced people around the world, today announced the appointment of three new board members for the 2023-2024 appointment period: Jennifer Indig, Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, and Rolf Stern. They will be joined by board officers Jeff Blattner, who will continue as Chair; Marc Silberberg, a former Chair who will serve as Vice Chair; and Leon Rodriguez, who will become Secretary-Treasurer. All begin their new terms on July 1.
“My HIAS colleagues and I are pleased to welcome these new members and officers to our national board,” said Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS. “The skills and experience they bring will be invaluable as HIAS continues this period of growth as an international NGO now providing critical services to refugees in 23 countries and continuing to respond to the war in Ukraine, the humanitarian emergency in Sudan and Chad, and the ongoing displacement crisis throughout Latin America and the Caribbean — all at a moment where the world is facing a record increase in the number of people displaced globally.”
“As HIAS continues to grow to meet the unprecedented challenges of displacement around the world, I am excited about continuing to serve as Board Chair,” said Blattner, who assumed the role in July 2022. “I look forward to working with these new board members and officers, who come from diverse backgrounds and bring a host of different skills and experiences to the HIAS board.”
More information on the incoming board members below:
Jennifer Indig has over 20 years of experience both in the public and private sector in international affairs, counterterrorism, and intelligence analysis. She is the founder of Fern Hill Project, a community organization that supports local women business owners and entrepreneurs, and currently serves as a Trustee at the Rippowam Cisqua School and an Executive Board Member of Twist Out Cancer. She has worked at several public policy think tanks, most recently as a Senior Fellow at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School. She served as Managing Director of Business Intelligence and Analysis at a private investigative firm, and as Team Leader and Senior Analyst with the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Bureau for over seven years. Jenny holds a BA from Colgate University and a Masters in International Affairs from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She lives in New York with her husband and three children.
Maharat Rori Picker Neiss is the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, Missouri, and one of the first women ordained as Orthodox clergy in the United States. Her previous roles include clergy at Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis and Assistant Director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee. Rori’s passion for Judaism, feminism, interfaith dialogue, and social justice has led her to speak, teach, and learn globally. In addition to her semicha from Yeshivat Maharat, she holds a B.A. from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. Rori is married to Russel Neiss, and they have three children.
Rolf Stern was the founding partner and is now Senior Advisor to BDO Ecuador Group, an audit and consulting firm. He has more than 40 years of experience working closely with clients’ management teams on strategic planning, organizational diagnostics, business valuation, marketing, financial development, and recently forensic accounting. Rolf speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. He served as the President of the Ecuador Jewish Community from 2008-2013. Rolf holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a Master’s in Business Administration, International Business from The American University in Washington, DC.
Board Chair Jeff Blattner is a member of the adjunct faculty at the University of Colorado Law School, and a senior fellow at the Silicon Flatirons Institute Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship of the University of Colorado. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, summa cum laude, and Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, Jeff was formerly deputy assistant attorney general and special counsel for information technology in the Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice. Jeff also previously served as chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee staff of Senator Edward Kennedy and as a law clerk to Justice Potter Stewart. He also served on the presidential transitions of Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as the transition of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
Leon Rodriguez served under appointment from former President Obama as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) from 2014 to 2017. In that position, Leon directed the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (“DACA”) and other elements of President Obama’s 2014 Executive Actions on Immigration Actions. Leon also oversaw USCIS’ refugee processing during the period of large-scale admission from Syria, Iraq, and Somalia. Currently, Leon is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Seyfarth Shaw, LLP and a Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs at the Watson Institute for International And Public Affairs at Brown University in Providence. Leon is beginning his third term on the Board of Directors of HIAS, and served for the last three years as chair of its External Affairs Committee. In addition to his service at USCIS, Leon has served in various other government positions including as Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2011 to 2014. Leon graduated with a B.A. from Brown and a law degree from Boston College Law School.
Marc Silberberg retired in 2019 as a partner from Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, an international law firm, after a 40-year career with the firm. Marc served as Chairman of the HIAS Board of Directors in 2011, 2012, and 2013. He graduated with a B.A from Northwestern University and a J.D and LL.M in Taxation from New York University School of Law.