Ruth W. Messinger
Straight for Equality in Faith Communities
Ruth W. Messinger is the President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the world’s leading Jewish organization working to end poverty and realize human rights in the developing world. Ruth came to AJWS in 1998 after a 20-year career in public service in New York City. Ruth served on the Obama administration’s Task Force on Global Poverty and Development and currently sits on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group.
Ms. Messinger is a lifelong social justice leader, who has worked to improve the quality of people’s lives, starting as a social worker and community organizer, an elected official in New York City, and currently as the president of AJWS, the leading international Jewish human rights organization advocating for LGBT rights.
For decades, Messinger has been an outspoken ally to the LGBT community, starting with her advocacy for the first anti-discrimination bill in New York City through her current efforts as the leader of AJWS to support advocates of LGBT rights in 19 countries. On a personal, note, Messinger’s daughter is a lesbian, coming out long after her mother had established her reputation as an advocate for LGBT rights.
Ruth has been honored for her inspirational work by many national Jewish organizations and has received honorary degrees from four major American rabbinical seminaries. She was named by The Jerusalem Post as the sixth most influential Jew in the world of a list of 50, and by The Huffington Post as one of the 10 most inspiring women religious leaders in 2012.
Ruth lectures widely on diverse social and global justice issues and is an active member of her congregation, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, and serves on the boards of National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Hazon, United to End Genocide, Interaction, and Surprise Lake Camp.
She received a B.A. from Radcliffe College and an M.S.W. from the University of Oklahoma. She is married to Andrew Lachman, has three children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
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