This article first appeared in the Jewish Telegraph newspaper in the UK.
We ORT to be best in the world for education, claims new chief executive
The outlook for the future of World ORT is positive, according to new director general and chief executive Dan Green.
The 47-year-old took over from Avi Ganon last month, having been chief operating officer since 2016 and chief executive of ORT UK from 2012.
He told the Jewish Telegraph: “We’ve got a fantastic set of staff around the world and our schools are second-to-none in their countries.
“I spoke to one of our teachers in Milan, and she said our school was the best in the city.
“Our university in Montevideo, Uruguay, has once again been named as the best in the country.
“We have an amazing product, and we have unmet needs — we have to connect those with our donors and wait for them to support us as much as they can, whenever they’re ready.
“I’m absolutely positive about the future, especially when you see the students and the kids and see the impact we bring on their lives. It’s tremendous.”
Founded in 1880 in St Petersburg, ORT is a global education network that began by training 19th century Russian Jews in essential trades and professions.
It has now developed into a network that reaches more than 300,000 people a year in more than 30 countries.
The main focus of education is on science and technology, with strengthened Jewish identity.
During Dan’s eight years at ORT, the growth of the network across World ORT, and its role in it, has changed immensely.
He explained: “We are the fulcrum of the activity. We’ve tried to grow our impact and influence across the world, and provide professional development and training for our staff around the world.
“Although our students speak different languages and are from different continents, they are stillJewish and belong to the same organisation, family and share the same values.
“We are creating a global citizenship for people, just under the ORT banner.
“The impact of our programmes, in terms of what we’re trying to achieve around the world, is massive.
“We try to ensure that every student can fulfil their potential, with as much support as possible.”
The coronavirus pandemic has, he said, been a “huge game changer” for everyone.
It has seen ORT change its strategy from six months ago, and presented new challenges.
“It’s been a radical shift,” he explained. “We’ve had to reset the agenda of the organisation, and think about what a new reality might look like.
“We have to think about how our funds are coming in, and if they will be impacted.
“From a learning point of view, education across our network could completely change from what we’ve seen.
“The dramatic pivot in moving all of our education online virtually overnight back in March was a tremendous achievement.
“Having embraced that distance learning, we have to recognise the future for us may very well change in a dramatic fashion over the next few years.
“Even if our students are allowed back into classrooms, there will be a much more blended model between having lessons in classrooms and having lessons online.
“It’s a huge challenge for everyone in education and one which we are grappling with at the moment.”
World ORT’s president Dr Conrad Giles welcomed Dan’s appointment. He called it a “new and exciting chapter”.
He said: “With this appointment World ORT begins a new and exciting chapter in its continuing commitment to help provide quality education to hundreds of thousands of students around the world.
“The years I have worked with Dan and observed his service have convinced me that he possesses all the necessary qualities to lead us as our director general.
“His vision and his strategic thinking are coupled with extraordinary people skills which will enable him to lead us and expand the impact of World ORT in the global educational community.”