Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Selects Rabbi Aaron Lerner as President and C.E.O.
Hillel at UCLA Executive Director to Assume Post from Retiring Longtime Foundation Leader Marvin Schotland in January 2023
The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) today announced that it has named Rabbi Aaron Lerner as its next president and chief executive officer, effective Jan. 2, 2023.
Lerner will transition from Hillel at UCLA, where he has served as executive director since 2012, and succeed Marvin I. Schotland, who has led The Foundation since 1989 and announced in January his intention to retire at year end from the largest manager of charitable assets for Los Angeles Jewish philanthropists. Schotland will become president and CEO emeritus.
The retirement announcement set in motion a comprehensive national search for Schotland’s successor, culminating in Lerner’s selection and enabling what is expected to be a seamless leadership handover, according to Foundation Board Chair Evan Schlessinger.
Schlessinger stated: “Rabbi Aaron Lerner is an energetic and dynamic nonprofit leader with a demonstrated track record of success and distinctly qualified to guide The Foundation into the next generation. He impressed our selection committee with his deep understanding of Los Angeles Jewish life, foresight and vision, and insights into important social issues confronting our communities. He brings to this position a unique skill set: strong underpinnings of spirituality as an ordained rabbi and educator, but also an earlier career background in finance that will serve him well at The Foundation. We welcome him and look forward to his stewardship of this enduring institution.”
The Foundation chair continued: “There are neither adequate superlatives nor sufficient expressions of gratitude to Marvin Schotland for the steadyhanded leadership and visionary strategic thinking, resulting in the remarkable growth achieved during his tenure. He engenders respect and admiration from all with whom he works – staff, lay leadership, donors, grantees and advisors alike. It’s a testament to him personally as well as professionally, and he leaves a lasting legacy at The Foundation.”
Under Schotland’s 33-year leadership, the institution has grown from $90 million to $1.6 billion (at Dec. 31, 2021) in charitable assets under management and ranks among Los Angeles’s largest foundations. During the last decade, The Foundation has distributed nearly $1 billion in grants to nonprofits locally, nationally, in Israel and around the world, including $123 million in 2021.
Schotland stated: “Leading The Foundation has been the greatest privilege of my professional life and, when I joined in 1989, never could have imagined that my role here would extend to nearly half the organization’s existence. In Aaron Lerner, though, I am confident The Foundation identified the person with all the appropriate attributes for the job he’s about to assume. Through his leadership of Hillel at UCLA, he has been an inspiration for younger Jews and will bring that perspective to engagement on both the donor and grantmaking sides of The Foundation. I wish Aaron great success and look forward to working closely together to affect a smooth changeover.”
Lerner commented: “I have known and long admired the pivotal role The Foundation plays in fostering, strengthening and sustaining our communities – both Jewish and nonsectarian. The institution’s commitment to Jewish values alongside smart and impactful philanthropy resonates deeply with me. I am honored and humbled by my selection as its next president and CEO, and excited by the opportunity to immerse myself in The Foundation’s vital work in concert with its talented management team and staff, committed lay leadership and passionate community of donors.”
He continued: “As a local communal leader, I have seen firsthand how The Foundation’s grants enable so many incredible initiatives to thrive. Its adaptability is unique for an organization its size. I have seen how The Foundation’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, mental health support, and encouragement to create more inclusive Jewish life have provided stability and inspiration. I believe this experience as a practitioner gives me an even greater appreciation for The Foundation’s impact.”
Schlessinger added his deep appreciation to the selection committee which in addition to himself, consisted of Foundation trustees William R. Feiler, who served as chair; Allan B. Cutrow; Lorin M. Fife; Lawrence Rauch; and Cathy Siegel Weiss; as well as longtime Los Angeles business and philanthropic leader Richard V. Sandler. The committee worked alongside the executive search firm Heidrich & Struggles.
About Rabbi Aaron Lerner
For the past decade, Aaron Lerner has served as executive director of Hillel at UCLA, which provides a “home away from home” for students to build their identities through Jewish life, learning and Israel. In that position, he has worked to foster an inclusive, empowered campus community. Under his watch, Hillel at UCLA has expanded leadership training initiatives and increased engagement to nearly 2,000 students annually. An educator by training, Lerner plays a leading role in Israel advocacy and has been instrumental in fostering initiatives that have been replicated on some 80 college campuses nationwide. He has also directed major fundraising efforts for the organization, including its current endowment campaign.
Earlier in his career, Lerner spent 10 years in real-estate finance, originating debt and equity funding for commercial transactions.
He was ordained in 2013 by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, the “open” Orthodox seminary in Riverdale, The Bronx, N.Y., with an emphasis in education. He was conferred a bachelor of business administration in finance from USC’s Marshall School of Business in 2002.
A Wexner Graduate Fellow and Schusterman Fellow, Lerner and his wife, Rachel, are the parents of three children. The family resides in Los Angeles’s Carthay Square neighborhood.