Robert Aronson is Elected New Chair of HIAS Board of Directors
Jun 20, 2019
Robert Aronson is Elected New Chair of HIAS Board of Directors
Alan Abramson, Tanaz Eshaghian, Mitchell Gordon and Tamar Susan Newberger also elected to the refugee resettlement nonprofit’s national board
Silver Spring, Md. – Robert Aronson, a Minneapolis-based attorney who has represented hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers from around the world, has been elected chair of the board of directors of HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees. Aronson has served on the HIAS board for 28 years and brings to the role four decades of legal experience, as well as a deep commitment to refugees and asylum seekers. He will officially take the chair on July 1.
Aronson first became a HIAS board member in 1988. That year he traveled to Rome as a volunteer attorney to litigate for the issuance of refugee visas on behalf of Soviet Jews who had been denied entry to the United States. Throughout the 1900s, he convened and mentored a network of Jewish attorneys from Minneapolis–Saint Paul to represent asylum seekers from the Soviet Union. Since then, he has helped HIAS expand its scope of work from serving Jewish refugees to working with vulnerable populations of all backgrounds. He has chaired the HIAS board’s Strategic Planning Committee, Public Policy Committee and the Programs Committee, as well as served on the Executive Committee.
“I am honored and humbled to be elected as the new HIAS board chair, to help build further on our efforts to restore humane, rational policies and attitudes toward refugees – both nationally and globally – so as to give voice to the silent and hope to the despondent, and to effectuate the core Jewish value of kiddush hachayim – the sanctification of life,” Aronson shared. “HIAS for me is as intimate and mystical as a connection to the whispers of my own ancestors and as grandiose and empowering as its mission to help refugees and asylum seekers all over the world.”
A leading national authority in immigration law for international physicians and medical research figures, Aronson serves as outside immigration counsel to university and academic medical institutions across the country. He is currently a shareholder in the immigration department of Fredrikson & Byron, the international firm. He is the recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Service Award of the Indiana University School of Law and was named as the 2017 recipient of the Sidney Barrows Lifetime Achievement Award of the Cardozo Society, the affinity group of Jewish lawyers, jurists, and law students in the Twin Cities. He holds degrees from Harvard Law School and the Indiana University School of Law—Bloomington.
At the June 3 board meeting, HIAS also confirmed new board members Alan Abramson, Tanaz Eshaghian, Mitchell Gordon and Tamar Susan Newberger.
“We are thrilled to welcome four talented new board members to HIAS, who share the organization’s values, passion and commitment to welcoming the stranger and protecting the refugee,” said outgoing chair of the board Dianne Lob. “Addressing the global refugee crisis and the asylum seeker crisis at our border requires bold and innovative leadership, and we look forward to partnering with our new colleagues as we continue to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.”
“As attorneys, business leaders, filmmakers, high-tech innovators, and advocates, these HIAS board members bring invaluable experiences and perspectives to the organization,” Mark Hetfield, HIAS president and CEO, commented. “They also share a deep commitment to our values and mission. I’m honored to work in partnership with them to make a difference in the lives of millions of people fleeing violence and persecution across the country and around the world.”
More information on the incoming board members is below:
Alan Abramson is the president and partner at Abramson Brothers, a New York City-based, family-run commercial real estate investment firm that was established in 1957. Abramson received a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law in 1972 and received a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College in Ohio. He is currently on the board of Lawyers for Children and has also served on the boards of Tibet House, the Dalton School, Beth Israel Medical Center and FEGs .
Tanaz Eshaghian is an Iranian-American documentary filmmaker. Her debut feature-length film, “Be Like Others,” a provocative look at men in Iran choosing to undergo sex change surgery, premiered at the 2008 Sundance film festival, went on to win the Teddy special jury prize at the Berlin Film Festival and was nominated for an Emmy award. In 2018, Tanaz directed “The Last Refugees,” which follows one of the last Syrian families allowed in the U.S. before President Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
Mitchell Gordon currently serves as CEO of Edition Logistics Management, a merchant banking firm. He has been a corporate executive at Interpool and ABC -TV; a partner at private equity firms (Atlas Capital and Cambridge Capital); and a senior investment banker at both bulge bracket (Salomon Smith Barney/Citi) and boutique firms (Edition Capital Partners, Needham, Furman Selz and Morpheus Capital). He has served on nine corporate and four not-for-profit boards.
Tamar Susan Newberger
Tamar Susan Newberger is a computer scientist and executive in the high-tech industry. She is also a civic activist and volunteer. As a diplomatic spouse of the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, she planned and executed initiatives concerning women’s leadership, entrepreneurship and STEM and mentored local women on careers in technology. She served as a member of the board of Young Women’s Leadership Charter School for five years; is a trustee and member of the Economic Empowerment Committee of the Chicago Jewish Women’s Foundation since 2006; and as a board member of Camp Ramah in Wisconsin since 2013.
Sara Koenig, West End Strategy Team
SKoenig@westendstrategy.com; Cell: (917) 420-0303
HIAS is the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees—including women and children, and ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities—whose lives are in danger for being who they are. Guided by our values and history, HIAS helps refugees rebuild their lives in safety and advocates to ensure that all displaced people are treated with dignity. More info at @HIASrefugees, Facebook and hias.org.