Ruth W. Messinger to speak at Fairfield University


Image: Ruth Messinger

Ruth W. Messinger, former Manhattan borough president and president and executive director of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), will speak at Fairfield University in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business on Thursday, March 11, at 7:30 p.m. Her lecture, which is co-sponsored by the Dolan School and the Carl & Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies of the College of Arts and Sciences, is entitled "Jews as Global Citizens: The Work of the American Jewish World Service."

The lecture will focus on the work and philosophy of AJWS, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world, and, through its Jewish Community Development Fund, building identity in Russia and Ukraine.

A graduate of Radcliffe College with a master's in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma, Messinger has always been an active leader. It was in Oklahoma she began her professional career in public service, running a child welfare agency.

Born and raised in New York, she has devoutly pursued social justice through her commitment to and involvement in service and volunteerism. Messinger bases her loyalty to volunteerism and service work on the Jewish values of pursuing justice and healing the world, taught to her by her parents and which she has passed down to her own children. She was in public service in New York for 20 years and served eight years as Manhattan borough president. In 1997, she was the first woman to secure the Democratic Party's nomination for mayor.

Messinger is currently a visiting professor at Hunter College where she teaches urban policy and politics. She is a member of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism and president of the Board of Surprise Lake Camp, a 100-year-old Jewish camp in New York.

Messinger also sits on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations, including the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women; Project Enterprise, a New York City micro-credit organization; and the Jericho Project, a residential drug rehabilitation program.

AJWS provides aid, technical assistance and volunteers to grassroots groups in more than 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as 40 Jewish renewal projects in Russia and Ukraine. AJWS funds projects in health, education, agriculture, and development and human rights in underdeveloped countries. Messinger's intelligence and leadership has helped to increase financial support and organizational growth. She has taken a particular interest in the AIDS crisis in Africa and has spoken across the country on the topic.

The Forward, an American Jewish weekly newspaper, has named Messinger one of the 50 most influential Jews of the year, for the past three years. The lecture is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested. Please call the Carl & Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 12, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 181